This weekend we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. I find it curious that our Gospel never mentions, Christ as the Good Shepherd. In fact, the next words from Christ immediately after our Gospel ends are, I am the Good Shepherd. A Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. But we don’t hear those words, why? I think, because the Church wants us to pay attention to the other metaphor Christ uses: I am the gate. Jesus is the gate, when we approach the gate do we find it open or closed?
The experience of closed doors is more common than ever right now. Schools are closed and education is all at home for our children. A closed door. Our favorite restaurants continue to be closed during the shelter in place order. A closed door. Senior living facilities also are closed to all of us outsiders to protect our elderly from getting sick. We are even encouraged not to go to our family and friends’ homes during this time. Another closed door. During holy week, most notably on Easter Sunday, during mass I saw a family “attempt” to open the doors to join us for the live-streamed Mass. But as you know, they found a closed door. This broke my heart. Never could I have imagined that we would keep the doors locked in order prevent you, God’s people, from attending mass. It seems like society is a place of closed doors right now – and present among them is the Church, a place where its doors are closed…
But there is that old axiom that says, when one door closes, another one opens. We might think that our world is filled with closed doors. But it’s really not. If we look closer, we will see that many beautiful doors have opened.
For our schools, we are seeing that online education can work during extreme circumstances. Although this might be the end of snow days, sorry! An open door.
For that favorite restaurant we may not be able to go and sit down at the restaurant itself, but we are able to order take-out in or even purchase some of our favorite entrees in local grocery stores. Or, as some people have done we could order take-out for groups of people to show appreciation like our first responders. An open door.
For our loved ones in senior living facilities, we have seen people go to their windows with a poster and a message of love. And for our families and friends, we are staying connected through zoom, face time or other means of video messaging. Another open door.
Or for our Church. When this all began, we initially believed that live-streaming Masses wasn’t going to be possible, why? Well we didn’t have internet set up in the main church. But through the generosity of a couple parishioners and long hours of set-up, we have been able since Easter Sunday to live-stream Mass for all of you. An open door.
Yes, sometimes in life we encounter a closed door, but if we look we can find an opening somewhere else.
Today, Jesus says to us that [he] is the gate. Or, more appropriate for us today:He is the open door. Jesus encourages us: Ask and you shall receive, Seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened, (Luke 11: 9-11). Jesus is the gate, who desires to open the door to those who knock. And its important for us to see that he opens the door for us – who really need an open door in a world of closed doors.
What doors has Jesus opened for us? Jesus opens the door to new life, I came that you might have life and that you would have it abundantly. This door is our baptism. Jesus draws us into new life and friendship with Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirt.
The door that Jesus opens gives us freedom. Jesus doesn’t keep the gate closed to prevent us from leaving. No, he opens the door to give us freedom, I am the gate, he says, whoever enters through me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. Jesus is the open door.
Finally, Jesus opens the door for us all. He’s not exclusive, he’s inclusive. Work out facility story. But Jesus is not like this workout facility. Jesus is not worried about keeping others out, he wants to bring us in, he wants to bring us together. Here at St. Roberts, and many other churches, we have done our best to keep the “doors open.” But there has been another powerful open door I do not want us to miss. Many families have experienced a greater depth and intimacy of praying together at home. My hope is that when we are allowed to open our doors here, the new habits of prayer at home persist.
The questions for us to reflect on this weekend, what doors do you need Christ to open? How has Jesus been opening doors of faith in your life?
Finally, Jesus is our open door, but he wants us to be an open door as well. How are we inviting people to Jesus’ door so that they can have new life and freedom? How is Christ using us to open doors in other people’s lives?
In Christ’s Love and Friendship,