Pope Francis Warns Against the Dictatorship of Narrow Thinking
A closed mind leaves no room for listening to God’s will, the Holy Father said, urging Christians to pray.
VATICAN CITY — In his daily homily, Pope Francis warned the faithful against idealizing their own way of thinking and encouraged them to be vigilant in prayer, noting that a closed mind leaves no room for God.
“Even today there is a dictatorship of a narrow line of thought,” which kills “people’s freedom, their freedom of conscience,” the Pope said in his April 10 Mass.
Speaking to those present in the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse, Pope Francis launched his homily by reflecting on the day’s first reading, taken from Genesis, in which God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, but that he and his descendants would have to observe the covenant with the Lord.
Looking at this passage, he noted, helps to explain Jesus’ message to the Pharisees in the day’s Gospel, taken from John, in which he calls them liars, because they did not listen to the prophets. Jesus reveals that he has existed long before Abraham, for which they attempt to stone him.
Their mistake, the Pope observed, was to “detach the commandments from the heart of God,” emphasizing how they thought it was enough to merely obey the commandments, which are more than “just a cold law.”
“This is the drama of the closed heart, the drama of the closed mind,” he said. “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,” but only for what a person believes should be done.
“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,” he said, noting that “these people did not listen to the prophets and did not listen to Jesus.”
Explaining how this attitude is “something greater than a mere stubbornness,” the Holy Father said, “No, it is more: It is the idolatry of their own way of thinking.”
Saying that “these people had a narrow line of thought and wanted to impose this way of thinking on the people of God,” the Pope drew attention to how “Jesus rebukes them for this” by saying, “You burden the people with many commandments, and you do not touch them with your finger.”
Pope Francis then went on to describe how the theology of the Pharisees “becomes a slave to this pattern, this pattern of thought: a narrow line of thought,” and observed that “there is no possibility of dialogue.”
He said that, with this mentality, “there is no possibility to open up to new things, which God brings with the prophets,” stating that “they killed the prophets, these people; they close the door to the promise of God.”
“When this phenomenon of narrow thinking enters human history, how many misfortunes,” he said, adding that “we all saw, in the last century, the dictatorships of narrow thought, which ended up killing a lot of people, but when they believed they were the overlords, no other form of thought was allowed. This is the way they think.”
Explaining how even now people foster this idolatry of “a narrow line of thought,” Pope Francis said that, “today, we have to think in this way, and if you do not think in this way, you are not modern; you’re not open, or worse.”
“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,” he said, noting that type of 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.”
Concluding his homily, the Holy Father drew attention to Jesus’ exhortation in front of this narrow-minded thought, stating that it “is always the same: Be vigilant and pray; do not be silly, do not buy” into things “you do not need.”
“Be humble and pray, that the Lord always gives us the freedom of an open heart, to receive his word, which is joy and promise and covenant. And with this covenant, move forward."