It is sad and painful to see closed gates: the closed gates of our selfishness towards those we pass by every day; the closed gates of our individualism in a society that threatens to wither many with loneliness; the closed gates of our indifference towards those who suffer and live in poverty - emphasised the pope at the closing Mass of HisHungarian visitation.
Crowds gathered at Kossuth Square, which can accommodate 25,000 people. Those who couldn’t find a seat could still watch the papal mass on large screens. Novák Katalin, Áder János, and Schmitt Pál, former presidents of Hungary, as well as current Prime Minister Orbán Viktor, Speaker of the National Assembly Kövér László, and Deputy Speaker Szili Katalin were in attendance.
Upon his arrival, Pope Francis took a ride around Kossuth Square in the popemobile, greeted by tens of thousands of people cheering, clapping, and waving. Hungarian and Vatican flags were waved in the crowd, and participants came from almost all of the neighbouring countries beyond the Hungarian cities. At the beginning of the mass, Father Zoltán Horváth highlighted Pope Francis’ earlier statement that he came to Budapest to embrace the Hungarian people.
“Jesus, like a shepherd who seeks his flock, came to search for us when we were lost; he came as a shepherd to snatch us from death; like a shepherd who knows and loves his sheep with infinite tenderness – who led us to the Father’s flock and made us His children. So let us contemplate the image of the Good Shepherd and reflect on two actions that he does for his sheep, as recounted in the gospel: first, he calls them by name, and then he leads them out.”
Pope Francis began the Mass with these words. Jesus came to search for us, as a shepherd who loves his sheep with infinite tenderness, said Pope Francis. The Holy Father believed that Jesus called his sheep by name. In his sermon, Pope Francis talked about how we are like lost sheep, but we have returned through the grace of Jesus. The Pope stated that we should feel that we are God’s holy people, as He has gathered us together. This is why He called us together, so that His love could unite us in an embrace. It is wonderful that we can share this joy with other Christian leaders, the Jewish community, and others.
The Pope added that Catholicism is about receiving and passing on the love of the Good Shepherd who called us by name, and it is about making His flock receptive and never exclusive.
“Therefore, we have all been invited to cultivate the bonds of brotherhood and cooperation without division, without considering our community as our own possession, without being consumed by the concern for the defense of our own territory, but rather opening ourselves up to mutual love.” said Pope Francis. The Holy Father also spoke about how, after calling His sheep by name, the shepherd leads them out.
“God first gathers us in His family, then sends us out into the world to be messengers of the good news. We can capture this movement using another image that Jesus used, the image of the gate.” said the Pope. According to Francis, Jesus is the gate through which we can reach God’s community.
“After bringing us back into God’s arms and the community of the Church, Jesus is the gate that directs us out into the world: encouraging us to go out and meet our brothers and sisters.” emphasized the Holy Father. As he said, we have all been invited to this, with no one excluded, to step out of our comfort zone and have the courage to reach all the peripheries where the light of the gospel is needed. The Pope believes that living “outward” means that, like Jesus, we all become open gates.
“It is sad and painful to see closed gates: the closed gates of our selfishness to those we pass by every day; the closed gates of our individualism in a society that threatens many with loneliness; the closed gates of our indifference to those who suffer and live in poverty; the closed gates to those who are strangers, others, refugees, and the poor. Finally, the closed gates of our church communities: closing ourselves in, closing ourselves off from the world, closing ourselves off from those who are not well, closing ourselves off from those who seek God’s forgiveness. I ask you to open the gates!” said Pope Francis to those gathered in the square. As pastors, it is important for us to say that we cannot abuse our role, suppress the flock entrusted to us, or steal space from our lay brothers and sisters – the Holy Father emphasized.