Pope Francis: Jesus is the door, path and voice to heed

Pope Francis said Mass on Monday morning in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican. Following the readings of the day, the Holy Father offered some reflections on the theme of docility to Christ, who is the door through which we must pass if we would enter into eternal life, the way we must take if we are to reach eternal life, and the voice of the teacher who has words of eternal life.

Drawing especially on the Reading from the Gospel according to St. John (Jn. 10:1-10), Pope Francis recalled the Lord’s words—at once a warning and a promise—echoing the readings of Good Shepherd Sunday the day before. “He who does not enter the sheepfold by the door,” but tries another way, “is a thief and a robber,” he said. Christ is the door, stressed Pope Francis, “and there is no other.”

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Pope Francis went on to note the simplicity of the language with which Jesus addresses his teachings to the people—a simplicity of imagery that conveys profound truths in a powerful way. “Jesus,” he said, “always spoke to people with simple images: all those people knew what a shepherd’s life was like, because they saw it every day.” They also understood, therefore, what it meant to say, “you enter only through the gate of the sheep pen,” and that anyone trying to get in by any other way was up to no good:

“The Lord thus clearly says: you cannot enter eternal life by any entryway that is not the door—that is not Jesus. He is the door of our life—and not only of eternal life, but also of our daily lives. Any decision I take, I take either in the name of Jesus, passing by way of the door of Jesus, or I take it a little—shall we say in simple language—through the smuggler’s hatch [It. contrabbando]? We enter the enclosure through the door, which is Jesus.”

Jesus continued, therefore, speak of the way. The shepherd knows his sheep and leads them out: “He walks in front of them, and the sheep follow him.” The journey is just that, the pope said, “following Jesus” on the “path of life, the life of every day,” and we need not fear being misled, when we follow Him as He shows us the way:

“Those who follow Jesus do nor err! ‘Oh, Father, yes, but things are difficult ... So many times I do not see clearly what to do ... I was told that there was a seer and I went there and I went there; I went to the [fortune teller], who turned the cards to me ...’ If you do this, you do not follow Jesus. You follow another, who shows you another way, a different way. Jesus shows the way forward: there is no other who can show the way.’ Jesus has warned us: ‘There will be others who will say the way of the Messiah is this, this, this [other way]: do not listen. Do not hear them. I am the way.’ Jesus is the door and also the path: if we follow him we shall not go astray.”

Pope Francis then focused on the voice of the Good Shepherd. “The sheep," he said, “follow him because they know his voice.” Only, how can we know the voice of Jesus, and even defend ourselves “from the voices of those who are not Jesus, those entering through the window, who are bandits, who [seek to] destroy and deceive you?”:

“I will tell you the recipe, [it is] simple: you will find the voice of Jesus in the Beatitudes. Should someone make to teach you a way contrary to the Beatitudes, [know] that such a one is one who has entered through the window: it is not Jesus! Second: you would know the voice of Jesus? You may know it when that voice speaks of the works of mercy. For example, in chapter 25 of St. Matthew: if someone tells you what Jesus says there, that is the voice of Jesus. Third: you may know it is the voice of Jesus when it teaches you to say ‘Father’, that is, when it teaches you to pray the Our Father.”

Pope Francis concluded, saying that the Christian life is really quite easy: Jesus is the door; He guides us along the way, and we know his voice in the Beatitudes, in the works of mercy and when it teaches us to say ‘Father’. “The door, the path and the voice,” said Pope Francis. “May the Lord make us understand that this is Jesus, this is the icon of him: the pastor who leads, who shows the way, and teaches us to listen to his voice.”

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