During this jubilee of mercy, perhaps many of us have crossed through a holy door, probably even multiple times.
Today Pope Francis suggested an image to accompany us as we pass through the door of mercy: the meeting of Jesus with the sorrowing widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17).
“The heart of this account is not the miracle but Jesus’ tenderness to the young man’s mother,” the Pope said, as he reflected at today’s general audience on this Gospel account.
He summarized what Luke recounts: how two groups of people traveling in opposite directions meet at the city gate of Nain. One group is made up of Jesus with his disciples and the crowds who followed him. The other group is the sad procession accompanying the deceased and this widow. The groups pass each other at the gate, “but it is then that Saint Luke notes Jesus’ sentiment: Seeing [the woman], the Lord was gripped by great compassion for her.”
Jesus, the Holy Father said, “decided to confront death, so to speak, face to face. And He would confront it definitively, face to face, on the Cross.”
God wants us to stand
The Pope said that during the jubilee, we should remember this meeting of Jesus and the widow, as we pass through the holy door.
“Each one arrives at the Holy Door bearing his own life,” the Pope said, “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!’”
At the Holy Door, the Pontiff said, humanity’s pain meets God’s compassion.
And in that meeting, he continued, Jesus’ message for us is the same as it was for the dead son of the widow of Nain.
“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!’”
“Arise!” the Pope declared. “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!”
It is true, the Pope acknowledged, that we fall so often. But, he said, “Jesus’ powerful word can make us arise and work in us also the passage from death to life.”
Our tender God
Pope Francis also reflected on the verse that explains that Jesus took the resurrected young man “And He gave him to his mother.”
“This phrase is so beautiful: it indicates Jesus’ tenderness,” the Pope said.
“Receiving him from Jesus’ hands, [the widow] 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,” the Pope said, “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.”
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full text: https://zenit.org/articles/general-audience-text-on-crossing-the-holy-door-like-the-widow-of-nain/