Service is a call for all Christians, says Pope
During his Sunday Angelus address, Pope Francis also prayed for peace in Nicaragua
Pope Francis waves to the crowd during his Angelus prayer from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square, in the Vatican. (Photo: AFP)
Following Christ’s example of love and service to those in need is not a task reserved for a select few but a call for all Christians, Pope Francis said.
The image of Jesus entering the kingdom of heaven through a “narrow gate” does not mean that “only a few are destined to pass through it”, but rather means living “his life in love, in service and giving oneself like him,” the pope said Aug. 21 during his Sunday Angelus address.
“To enter into God’s plan for our lives requires that we narrow the space for selfishness, reduce the presumption of self-sufficiency, lower the heights of pride and arrogance, and overcome laziness, in order to cross the risk of love, even when it comes to the cross,” he said.
After praying the Angelus Prayer, Pope Francis said he was following news of the continued crackdown on the Catholic Church in Nicaragua “with concern and sadness.”
On August 19, Nicaraguan police burst into the diocesan headquarters of Matagalpa and expelled Bishop Rolando Álvarez and nearly a dozen others who had been under house arrest for more than two weeks.
Although the pope did not specifically mention the arrest of Bishop Álvarez, he prayed for peace in the country through the intercession of Mary.
“I would like to express my conviction and my hope that, through an open and sincere dialogue, the bases for a respectful and peaceful coexistence can still be found. Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the ‘Purísima’ ( ‘Mary Most Pure’), to inspire everyone’s heart with this concrete will,” he said.
As he does almost every week, he also prayed for the Ukrainian people.
Addressing around 12,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the pope reflected on the Gospel of Saint Luke, in which Jesus answers a question about those who will be saved by calling on his disciples to “strive to ‘enter through the narrow gate’.
The image of a narrow doorway, the pope said, “might frighten us, as if salvation were meant only for the chosen few, or for perfect people.”
However, he added, the belief that only a select few would “contradict” Jesus’ teaching that all are welcome “to dine in the kingdom of God.”
“This door is narrow, but it is open to everyone,” he said. “Don’t forget that. The door is open to everyone.”
Nevertheless, Jesus’ use of the image of the narrow gate was his way of telling Christians that “to enter into the life of God, into salvation, one must pass through him, not through another, through him; to welcome him and his word.”
He also called on Christians to reflect on “those daily acts of love that we struggle to continue” and to reflect on those who dedicate their lives and sacrifice themselves to help those in need, including parents, as well as those who serve the elderly and the poor.”
“Let us think of those who continue to work with commitment, enduring discomfort and, perhaps, misunderstanding; let us think of those who suffer because of their faith, but who continue to pray and to love; think of those who, rather than following their own instincts, respond to evil with good, find the strength to forgive and the courage to start over,” he said.
Pope Francis has encouraged Christians to follow the example of those who choose “the narrow gate of Jesus” and not “the wide gate of their own convenience”.
“Brothers and sisters, which side do we want to be on? asked the pope. “Do we prefer the ease of thinking only of ourselves, or do we choose the narrow door of the Gospel which challenges our selfishness, but which enables us to welcome the true life which comes from God and who makes us happy? side are we?”