Pope Francis on the Idolatry and Dictatorship of Limited Thought
It’s been a while since I’ve last posted here, my speaking schedule has had me on the road and even out of the country to deliver an invited lecture in recent weeks — I’ll be in Washington, DC, tomorrow to speak at the Franciscan Mission Service annual banquet as well. This has made it difficult to keep up with posting here at DatingGod.org, but I hope to be able to return to the new degree of regularity very soon.
For starters, I want to draw your attention to Pope Francis’s homily today. In his remarks, he reflected on the idolatry and dictatorship of closed minds and hearts. “This is the drama of the closed heart, the drama of the closed mind and when the heart is closed, this heart closes the mind , and when the heart and mind are closed there is no place for God.”
He was referring to the way in which some of the religious leaders and even ostensibly faithful members of the community in Jesus’s time were unable to accept what God was doing in Christ Jesus, because their hearts were closed and therefore their ability to conceive of what the Spirit was doing was made impossible. This, too, is a real threat and challenge for us today as it has always been for women and men, even those of faith. Instead of having hearts and minds that are open to God and to the the world, we can become entrenched in our own ideas and ways of thinking, limited in the ways we might hear God and calcified in our own positions, opinions, and views.
Pope Francis explains that this way of being closed,
It is a closed way of thinking that is not open to dialogue, to the possibility that there is something else, the possibility that God speaks to us, tells us about His journey, as he did to the prophets. These people did not listen to the prophets and did not listen to Jesus. It is something greater than a mere stubbornness. No, it is more: it is the idolatry of their own way of thinking. ‘I think this, it has to be this way, and nothing more’. These people had a narrow line of thought and wanted to impose this way of thinking on the people of God, Jesus rebukes them for this: ‘ You burden the people with many commandments and you do not touch them with your finger’
On the international level this is a call for people to be aware of neocolonial behaviors and expansionism. The ways in which more-powerful and more-wealthy nations commandeer other nations and peoples with the exportation of ideology and ways of thinking and behaving is a real threat to the human community, rich in diversity and through whom God can reveal all sorts of truth and wisdom.
Often rulers say : ‘I have asked for aid, financial support for this’ , ‘ But if you want this help, you have to think in this way and you have to pass this law, and this other law and this other law…’ Even today there is a dictatorship of a narrow line of thought and this dictatorship is the same as these people: it takes up stones to stone the freedom of the people, the freedom of the people, their freedom of conscience, the relationship of the people with God. Today Jesus is Crucified once again.
Yet, this is not only the case on the macrocosmic level, but a reality for individuals. I, like all people, struggle at times with wanting to impose my ideas and ways of thinking on others. Perhaps you are like me, too. Do you struggle with keeping mind and heart open to how God might be speaking to you through the ideas, cultures, and experiences of others? How might we be like the close-minded people in Jesus’s time who refused to hear his word, to recognize his mission, and who sought to put the Son of God to death? Do we attempt, in order to secure our own way of doing and thinking about things, to kill the worldviews and ideas of others?