Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Doors!

Many years ago I was working in the financial heart of the country. My office was some thirty stories up. The outside walls were floor to ceiling glass. The building, in severe wind, was designed in such a way there was enough sway a slight trembling of the glass was audible.
One particularly gusty afternoon a panel of glass shattered.
It was discovered upon investigation by the building mangers some delivery people had propped open a large door beside the revolving doors at the main entrance of the building, thus causing a significant loss of pressure within the building so that a gust of wind pushing against the weakest window had caused it to implode.
Mostly, I suspect, for most of us doors are something we pass in and out of numerous times throughout the day at home, work, going to church, getting in and out of a car, etc., without much thought, save perhaps an awareness of the security we feel behind a locked door at night.
As much as open doors are inviting, welcoming, closed doors make a statement of either ‘stay out/don’t bother me/no one is within’.
Every crossing of a threshold is a type of rite of passage, some extremely important and significant, such as crossing the threshold from being within the womb of our mothers to life ‘outside!’
Indeed we say, almost automatically when crossing certain thresholds through particular doors that we are ‘going out’ – or ‘ coming in’, people arrive or leave through a door: birth is arriving, death we see as a leaving, but ultimately it is the final crossing of the definitive threshold for which we have been granted existence by Love Himself.
As we approach Christmas and the birth of Jesus, today in Holy Mass we began in the Entrance Antiphon crying out with the Psalmist for the gates, the portals, the doors to be lifted up – in a word for our entire being, all creation to open wide that Christ might be in our midst.
Anyone who has read the Narnia books by C. S. Lewis, or seen the film, knows what adventures occur when Lucy goes through the door of the wardrobe, crosses the threshold.
Opening or closing any door, crossing, or not any threshold, sometimes demands a willingness to risk, to have openness to, or at least like Lucy and the children, a curiosity about what lies beyond.
Within the Latin rite there used to be a definitive, an important symbolic demarcation between the sanctuary and the main body of church buildings.
Commonly called ‘the communion rail’ it had within it a centre gate and sometimes side gates.
It was a diminutive reminder of what in the Byzantine tradition remains as the Iconostasis.
During the Divine Liturgy there are many points at which the priest enters and exits by the main doors or the side doors of the Iconostasis, with accompanying prayers, incensing, or processions.
This coming and going reminds us of the exchange between heaven and earth, thus during the Holy Season of Pascha [Easter], since Christ has risen and thus opened the gates of heaven all the holy doors remain open, the curtains drawn!
In the beginning Adam and Eve lived within the Garden, in intimacy with God until rebellion and sin were chosen and Adam and Eve were cast outside and an Angel posted to guard the tree of life. [Gen. 1, 2, 3]
Preceding the Exodus of our Elder Brothers and Sisters in faith, the Chosen People, the first Passover called for the marking of the lintels, the thresholds, with blood that those within might be spared death of the firstborn male child.
The Holy Child born Christmas night, is born to BE our Passover, to be the Lamb who is slain for us, and by His Blood we are redeemed, and what has been closed becomes open to us.
Jesus will urge us to enter into an intimacy with the Father akin to that experienced by Adam walking with Him in the Garden. We are to cross the threshold into solitude and silence, to “shut the door” for the secrecy of profound intimacy in prayer. [Mt. 6:6].
Jesus also teaches us that He is the Way, the gate/door/threshold [cf. Jn. 1o:1 ff; ] and in the crossing over the threshold into His death for us Jesus is sealed into a tomb whose door is shut until opened by the Angel after Christ is risen, for no longer is any closed door able to shut out Jesus [ Jn.20:19ff.], save the one over which we have free-will control, the door of our own being.
The Risen Jesus comes to us and with immense tenderness, even I would suggest a type of Divine Love longing, tells us He is waiting at the door of our being, assuring us that if we listen to His voice, and open the door of our being, He will enter within, in Eucharistic intimacy. [Rev. 3:20]
So little time remains before Christ comes in our midst as the child placed within the manger.
As the Servant of God Catherine Doherty teaches: “Christ desires to be born in the mangers of our hearts. Are the doors of our hearts wide open to receive the shepherds, the Magi, the stray visitors...in a word, humanity? Are they open to receive one another as Christ would receive each one of us? Are they open to receive those around us in our daily life?” {from Grace in Every Season}
It is never too late for we can always open!
Yes, behold, Jesus at the door of our being!

1 comment:

KAM said...

I've read a lot of posts this Season of Advent but Fr., this one for me gets right to the nub. Thanks for the 2 x 4. And a Merry and Blessed Christmas to you in your urban dwelling.