Friday, July 13, 2018

Freeing Jesus

By Victor Codina (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Blog de Cristianisme i Justícia
July 12, 2018

In the March 2013 conclave that preceded the election of Pope Francis, Cardinal Bergoglio made interesting interventions, one of them somewhat curious and little known.

When commenting on the text of Revelation 3:20 where it says that the Lord is at the door and knocking, Bergoglio stated that obviously the text refers to Jesus knocking at the door from outside to come in.

But he added that he was thinking about the times Jesus knocks from within for us to let him out.

Undoubtedly this interpretation might scandalize many Biblical scholars but it is an interesting idea because, as Bergoglio adds, the self-referential Church seeks to retain Jesus within itself and doesn't let him go out.

To put it differently, we have enclosed Jesus in doctrines, laws, rites, temples, episcopal palaces and structures of the past. We have held Jesus prisoner for centuries in the Western, medieval, feudal, inquisitional, colonial, diplomatic, powerful, anti-modern, absolutist, bourgeois, patriarchal, centralist and elitist church of Christendom. Jesus has been locked in ecclesial structures that distance him from the poor and simple people, from children and women, from peasants and fishermen, from migrants and refugees, from all those who in all cultures and religions seek the truth.

Jesus wants to go out to the street, to not be a prisoner of the past, to travel new roads, tread the soil, go to the borders, smell like sheep, like dust, sweat and tears, hear the cry of the people, converse, embrace, kiss, give a hand, heal, bless, speak words of encouragement, forgive, console, proclaim the Kingdom, generate hope and joy, give life, since only he possesses the Holy Spirit without measure.

We must free Jesus from the many prisons in which we have locked him over the centuries, recover the freshness of his gospel, return to Galilee, listen to his prophetic voice against the current hypocrites and exploiters of the people, against the new merchants of the temple, regain again Jesus the Nazarene craftsman, dangerous and disconcerting, able to trust his Father, to die and rise.

But freeing Jesus doesn't mean saying "Jesus yes, Church no," rather it implies forming a Church that is not self-referential but outgoing, evangelical, transparent, in sandals or barefoot, poor, missionary and paschal, detached from all temporal power, involved in the liberation of people and of creation, challenged by the pain of the victims, joyful with the joy of the Holy Spirit. The Church cannot substitute for Jesus; it must foster a personal encounter with him.

Only when we have freed Jesus from these prisons and have let him go out into the world of today to listen to the people, will we be able to open the door to him, let him enter our home, dine with him and he with us.

Bergoglio in the 2013 conclave was already announcing his future pastoral road map and the style of an outgoing Church. Perhaps because of this he was elected Pope and perhaps for the same reason others reject him today. But what is certain is that the Lord keeps knocking at the door. Does he want to come in or does he want to go out?

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