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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Angelus on the theme of salvation

At noon today, the Holy Father, Pope Francis appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to recite the Angelus with the faithful and with pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square for the usual Sunday appointment.

Greetings of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
prior to the recitation of the Angelus

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Today's gospel passage encourages us to meditate on the theme of salvation.  The evangelist Luke tells us that Jesus, while travelling to Jerusalem and along the way someone came close to him and asked him this question: Lord, will only a few be saved? (Lk 13:23).  Jesus does not give a direct answer, but raises the discussion to another level with suggestive language which, at first, the disciples do not understand: Strive to enter by the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will seek to enter but will not succeed (Lk 13:24).  With the image of a door, He wants to help his hearers understand that it is not a question of numbers - how many will be saved -, we don't need to know how many, but it is important that we all know which road will lead to salvation.

This path appears to pass through a door, but where is the door?  What does it look like?  Who is the door?  Jesus himself is the door.  He himself says so in John's gospel: I am the door/gate (Jn 10:9).  He leads us into communion with the Father, where we find love, understanding and protection.  But why is this a narrow door, we can ask?  Why does he say that it is narrow?  It is a narrow door not because it seeks to be oppressive, but because it requires us to restrict and to limit our pride and our fear, to open ourselves with humble and trusting hearts to Him, and to recognize ourselves as sinners, in need of his forgiveness.  This is the reason why the doorway is narrow: to restrain our pride, so that we won't become overly inflated.  The door of God's mercy is narrow but it is always thrown wide open for us!  God has no favorites; instead, he welcomes everyone, without distinctions.  A narrow door to limit our pride and our fear; a door that is wide open because God welcomes us without distinction.  The salvation that He gives us is an unending stream of mercy that breaks down every barrier and opens up surprising perspectives of light and peace.  The door is narrow but it is always thrown open wide: don't forget this.

Today, Jesus once again extends a pressing invitation for us to go to Him, to pass through the door that leads to the fullness of life, reconciliation and happiness.  He is waiting for each one of us, regardless of the sin that we have committed, he is waiting to embrace us, to offer us his forgiveness.  He alone can transform our hearts, He alone can give us the full sense of our existence, the truest joy.   Entering through the door that is Jesus, the door of faith and of the gospel, we can leave our worldly attitudes behind, our bad habits, our self-centredness and our inward-looking tendencies.  When we are in contact with the love and the mercy of God, there is authentic change and our life is illuminated by the light of the Holy Spirit: a light that can never be extinguished!

I want to propose something for us.  Let us think in silence for a moment about the things that we have within us that stop us from crossing through the doorway: our pride, our superiority, our sins.  And then, let us think about the other door, the one that is thrown wide open with the mercy of God, the one that is waiting for us, ready to grant us his forgiveness.

The Lord offers us many occasions to be saved and to enter through the door of salvation.  This door is an opportunity that must not be wasted: we must not spend our time on academic speeches about salvation, like the man did who turned toward Jesus; instead, we should take advantage of every opportunity for salvation, because at a certain moment, the owner of the house will get up and close the door (Lk 13:25), as we are reminded in the gospel.  But if God is good and loves us, why would he close the door at a certain point?  Because our lives are not video games or movies made for television; our lives are a series of goals that we aim to achieve.  The most important of these goals is eternal salvation.

Turning to the Virgin Mary, the Door/Gate of Heaven, let us ask her to help us to welcome every occasion that the Lord offers us to cross the threshold of faith and to enter into a wider path: this is the path of salvation that can accommodate all those who allow themselves to be guided by love.  Love saves us; love, which is already present on earth is the source of blessedness for those who, in meekness, patience and justice, forget themselves and give of themselves to others, especially to those who are weak.

Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father continued:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I have learned the sad news of a bloody attack that took place yesterday in the beloved land of Turkey.  Let us pray for the victims, for those who have died and those who have been wounded, and let us ask for the gift of peace for everyone.

Hail Mary ...

I cordially greet all of you, Roman pilgrims and those who have come from other countries, especially the faithful from Kalisz (Poland), Gondomar (Portugal); I also want to greet in a special way the newly-arrived seminarians from the Pontifical North American College.  Welcome to Rome!

I greet the members of the Most Holy Redeemer Association from Manfredonia, the motorcyclists from Polesine, the faithful from Delianova and those from Verona who have come on a walking pilgrimage.  I greet the youth from Padulle who have come to offer their service at the table as part of Caritas Rome.

I wish you all a good Sunday.  And please, don't forget to pray for me.  Enjoy your lunch and good bye!
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