“We are citizens, fellow citizens of this Church. If we do not enter into this temple to be part of this building so that the Holy Spirit may live in us, we are not in the Church,” the Pope told those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse for his Oct. 28 daily Mass.
Rather, “we are on the threshold and look inside…Those Christians who do not go beyond the Church’s reception: they are there, at the door: 'Yes, I am Catholic, but not too Catholic.'”
The Pope centered his reflections on both the day's first reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians and the Gospel, taken from Luke, Chapter 6.
In the first reading St. Paul explains to the Christians of Ephesus that they are no longer strangers, but have become fellow members of the house of God, which is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and has Jesus himself as the “capstone.”
The Gospel reading recounts how Jesus, after spending the night in prayer, comes down from the mountain and calls the Twelve Apostles by name.
By reflecting on the gospel reading, there are three clear actions that Jesus carried out when founding the Church, the Pope observed, saying that the first action is prayer, the second was choosing his disciples, and the third was welcoming and healing the crowds.
“Jesus prays, Jesus calls, Jesus chooses, Jesus sends his disciples out, Jesus heals the crowd. Inside this temple, this Jesus who is the corner stone does all this work: it is He who conducts the Church,” the pontiff noted, explaining that the Church is built on the apostles.
However, despite the fact that the Twelve were chosen by Jesus, they were all still sinners, the Pope said, explaining that although no one knows who sinned the most, there could have been one that sinned more than Judas did.
“Judas, poor man, is the one who closed himself to love and that is why he became a traitor. And they all ran away during the difficult time of the Passion and left Jesus alone. They are all sinners. But (Jesus) chose (regardless).”
And Jesus, the Pope added, wants everyone to be inside of the Church he founded, not as strangers passing through, but rather with the “rights of a citizen” where they have roots.
The person who stands at the threshold of the Church looking in but not entering has no sense of the full love and mercy that Jesus gives to every person, Francis said, adding that proof of this can be seen in Jesus' relationship with Peter.
Even though Peter denies the Lord he is still the first pillar of the Church, the pontiff explained. “For Jesus, Peter’s sin was not important: he was looking at (Peter’s) heart. But to be able to find this heart and heal it, he prayed.”
It is Jesus who prays and heals, Pope Francis noted, saying that it is something he does for each one of us.
“We cannot understand the Church without Jesus who prays and heals,” he said, praying that the Holy Spirit would help all to understand that the Church draws her strength from Jesus’ prayer which can heal us all.