Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 13, 2000
Why are doors such a big deal during the jubilee?
By SR. LOUISE ZDUNICH, NDC
The Jubilee Year 2000 is nearly over. At the beginning of it, we heard a lot about doors. Can you remind us again of the meaning of doors in general and how they relate to the significance of the holy door.
The holy door at St. Peter's Basilica was designated as such for the first holy year in 1350 and it has had significance for holy years since then. Why a door? Doors are meaningful from an ordinary point of view but also from a spiritual perspective.
We can think of doors in a variety of contexts. Our birth gave us the door to life and to a whole array of family and community connections. Our Baptism opened the door to the family of God and the activation of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
School doors allowed us to enter into the rooms of learning and life's vocation where we could serve God and humanity.
God seems to prefer open doors. On Easter morning, the women wondered who would remove the stone. But the Risen Christ had already opened the tomb and the gates of heaven which the Apocalypse says "will always remain open; neither day nor night will they be closed."
Jesus penetrated through locked doors (John 20:19) to see the disciples. Fear locks doors, also minds and hearts, but hope and trust can open them.
After all, Jesus assured his disciples and us too: "I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be safe" (John 10:9). Although Scripture speaks of a "narrow gate," God's love is always there to let us in.
However, sometimes closed doors have positive meaning too, for example when they separate us from others so we can have some peace and quiet in our busy lives.
In addition, the doors to our inner selves need to remain closed to all but God and ourselves. There, we enter and commune with God. Jesus said: "When you pray, go to your room, close your door and pray to your Father in secret" (Matthew 6:6).
Each time we open a door it reminds us of Jesus' words: "Behold I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me and open the door, I will enter and eat supper with you and you with me" (Revelations 3:20).
This verse, it seems to me, signifies a lot about doors. God is patient and does not force the door open but waits for us to open and accept the love that is offered. Sometimes, we are busy and preoccupied with so many things that we don't even hear the knock.
At other times, we hesitate to open because we don't know what awaits us on the other side or because we fear demands will be placed on us and we're not ready to give of ourselves.
But when we do open, God is there with an abundance of nourishment for us. In Psalm 80, God tells us "open wide your mouth and I will fill it." And Jesus assures us "I am the living bread. . . . Whoever eats of this bread will live forever" (John 6:50).
Through the Holy Spirit, we receive strength for today, hope for tomorrow, new vigour and light in our lives. This door, which is Christ, gives us access to others.
It is through Christ and in his name that we go to our sisters and brothers. It is Christ who comes to us in those who come to our door. But we must be attentive and open to the suffering, as well as to the beauty and joy in others.
Unfortunately, today closed doors are necessary for protection against intrusion from thieves or other would-be marauders. We not only close our doors, we keep them securely locked. We put up fences and walls and gates to keep others out.
But, in that way, we also tend to isolate ourselves from contact with others and that, I believe is a sad reflection on humanity.
If we shut ourselves off from others, we lose an important part of who we are, created in the image of a triune God. God is a God of relationships within the Trinity and in all of creation.
A jubilee year, especially this Great Jubilee, is meant to be a time of conversion, renewal, reconciliation. Doors can be a powerful symbol for us. Open, they speak of welcome and receptivity. Closed, they may reflect being isolated from God and community.
May the doors of this jubilee year that opened us to the gift of the Spirit, to life and to all our brothers and sisters continue to guide us as we move on in the third millennium until we arrive at the door of eternal life to meet God face to face.