L'Osservatore Romano

General Audience Text: On Crossing the Holy Door Like the Widow of Nain

“So, especially in the Jubilee, Mother Church receives her children, recognizing in them the life given to them by the grace of God”

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Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave during this morning’s general audience.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
The passage of Luke’s Gospel that we heard (7:11-17) presents to us a truly grandiose miracle of Jesus: the resurrection of a young man. Yet, the heart of this account is not the miracle but Jesus’ tenderness to the young man’s mother. Here mercy takes the name of great compassion toward a woman who had lost her husband and is now accompanying her only son to the cemetery. It is this great sorrow of a mother, which moves Jesus and incites Him to the miracle of the resurrection.
On introducing this episode, the Evangelist dwells on many particulars. Meeting at the door of the small city of Nain, a village, are two numerous groups that came from opposite directions and have nothing in common. Jesus, followed by the disciples and a great crowd, is about to enter the town, while the sad procession is coming out, which is accompanying the deceased, with the widowed mother and many people.  Near the door the two groups just pass one another, each one going its own way, but it is then that Saint Luke notes Jesus’ sentiment: Seeing [the woman], the Lord was gripped by great compassion for her “and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ And He came close and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still” (vv. 13-14). Great compassion guided Jesus’ actions: He halted the procession and touched the bier and, moved by profound mercy for this mother, He decided to confront death, so to speak, face to face. And He would confront it definitively, face to face, on the Cross.
During this Jubilee, it would be a good thing if, on crossing the Holy Door, the Door of Mercy, pilgrims were to recall this episode of the Gospel, which happened at the gate of Nain. When Jesus saw that mother in tears, she entered His heart! Each one arrives at the Holy Door bearing his own life, with its joys and its sufferings, plans and failures, doubts and fears, to present them to the Lord’s mercy. We are certain that, at the Holy Door, the Lord comes close to meet each one of us, to bring to us and to offer us His powerful consoling word: “Do not weep!” (v. 13). This is the Door of the encounter between humanity’s pain and God’s compassion. Let us always think of this: an encounter between humanity’s pain and God’s compassion. By crossing the threshold we fulfil our pilgrimage in the mercy of God who repeats to all of us, as He did to the young man: “I say to you, arise!” (v. 14). Arise! God wants us to stand. He created us to stand: therefore, Jesus’ compassion leads to that gesture of healing, to heal us, the key word here is: “Arise! Stand up, as God has created you!” – Stand. “But father, we fall so often” – “Forward, arise!” This is always Jesus’ word. On crossing the Holy Door, let us seek to hear this word in our heart: “Arise!” Jesus’ powerful word can make us arise and work in us also the passage from death to life. His word makes us revive, it gives hope, heartens tired hearts, opens to a vision of the world and of life that goes beyond suffering and death. Engraved on the Holy Door for each one is the inexhaustible treasure of God’s mercy!
Reached by Jesus’ word, “the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And He gave him to his mother” (v. 15). This phrase is so beautiful: it indicates Jesus’ tenderness: “He gave him to his mother.” The mother finds her son again. Receiving him from Jesus’ hands, she becomes mother for the second time, but the son that is now restored to her has not received his life from her. Thus mother and son receive their respective identity thanks to the powerful word of Jesus and his loving gesture. So, especially in the Jubilee, Mother Church receives her children, recognizing in them the life given to them by the grace of God. It is by dint of this grace, the grace of Baptism, that the Church becomes Mother and that each one of us becomes her child.
In face of the young man who came back to life and was restored to his mother, “fear seized them all; and they glorified God saying, ‘A great prophet has arisen among us’ and ‘God has visited His people!’” What Jesus did, therefore, is not only an act of salvation directed to the widow and her son, or a gesture of kindness limited to that city. In Jesus’ merciful rescue, God goes to encounter His people; in Him appears and will continue to appear to humanity, all the grace of God. Celebrating this Jubilee, which I wanted to be lived in all the particular Churches, namely in all the Churches of the world, and not only in Rome, it is as if the whole Church spread throughout the world joins in the one song of praise to the Lord. Today also, the Church recognizes herself being visited by God. Therefore, on going to the Door of Mercy each one knows that he goes to the merciful heart of Jesus: in fact, He is the true Door that leads to salvation and restores us to a new life. Mercy, be it in Jesus be it in us, is a path that begins from the heart to arrive at the hands. What does this mean? Jesus looks at you, He heals you with His mercy, He says to you: “Arise!” — and your heart is new. What does it mean to go on the path from the heart to the hands? It means that with a new heart, with a heart healed by Jesus I can carry out works of mercy through my hands, trying to help, to take care of all those in need. Mercy is a path that begins from the heart and arrives at the hands, namely, to works of mercy.
[At the end, greeting pilgrims in Italian]
I said that mercy is a path that goes from the heart to the hands. We receive in the heart the mercy of Jesus, who forgives us everything, because God forgives everything and raises us; He gives us a new life and infects us with His compassion. From that forgiven heart and with Jesus’ compassion, the path begins to the hands, namely, to the works of mercy. The other day a Bishop said to me that he had made entrance and exit doors of mercy in his Cathedral and in other churches. I asked him: “Why did you do this?” – “Because one door is to go in, to ask for forgiveness and have Jesus’ mercy; the other is the outgoing door of mercy, to take mercy to others, with our works of mercy.” But this Bishop is intelligent! We must also do the same with the path that goes from the heart to the hands: we enter the church through the door of mercy, to receive Jesus’ forgiveness, who says to us: “Arise! Go, go!” — and with this “go!” – standing – we go out through the exit door. It is the outgoing Church, the path of mercy that goes from the heart to the hands. Undertake this path!
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]
A warm welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims! I greet the Society of the Sacred Heart, the Sisters of the Immaculate <Conception> — I know them well, because they helped me in the Bishop’s residence at Buenos Aires. They are good – and the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart, who are holding their respective General Chapters. I exhort you to be faithful always to the foundation charism, witnessing the merciful love of the Father in places of apostolate.
I greet the faithful of Banzano di Montoro and the young people of the Giorgio La Pira Work of Florence, who come from different parts of the world. I hope that you will all live this Extraordinary Holy Year promoting the culture of encounter, recognizing the presence of the Lord’s flesh particularly in the poor and the needy.
Finally a greeting goes to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Last Monday we remembered the figure of Saint Dominic of Guzman, whose Order of Preachers is celebrating the eighth centenary of its foundation. May the enlightened word of this great Saint stimulate you, dear young people, to listen to and to live the teachings of Jesus; may his interior fortitude sustain you, dear sick, in moments of discomfort; and may his apostolic dedication remind you, dear newlyweds, of the importance of the Christian education of your family.
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]

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