You may have come across one of those little picture books of domestic front doors. Usually brightly coloured in bold reds, yellows and blues, and often quirky in shape and design, these books are a delight to flick through. I recall when living in Scotland, where buildings tend to match the rather dower and overcast weather, coming across a brightly painted front door amid the gloom was something of a little ray of sunshine.
The humble door may be a symbol of many things. A locked door says do not enter; stay away. An imposing door may give the impression of prestige or importance. A brightly coloured door might signify a welcoming message, or at least a sense of homely warmth. The door to our heart is a precious and vulnerable entrance—sometimes open, sometimes closed.
We have two images of door in our readings today. Let me say something about each, but in the reverse order in which we heard of them. It was Jesus who encouraged his disciples to ‘try to enter by the narrow door.’ This door—the door to salvation—clearly was an opening for people to enter; it is not a locked door barring all entry. But Jesus makes it clear that the doorway to God’s kingdom is not some wide and indiscriminate entrance where everything and anything can pass. It is a door to be knocked upon—meaning, a doorway to seek entrance rather than simply presume it. The door into God’s home is not left open, indiscriminately swinging in the breeze.
Yet Jesus also makes it clear that for others who are open to sharing in the gift of his life, he will open the door of his heart and home. It is not because of one’s status or celebrity that the door to the Lord’s feast will be opened; a place at the table will be offered to the one who is willing to become part of the family.
The second image of a doorway is in our first reading from Isaiah. Here, the doorway in question is the city of Jerusalem, the symbolic home of God among his people. Again, the door is there for those who claim a right of entry; but it is especially for those who seek to belong to God’s life that the door will be opened. It is a door for those who are outsiders and foreigners, who are strangers and dispossessed, but who have found their way to the Lord. Salvation and safety are offered to those who would otherwise be locked out and rejected. God’s door is opened for those willing to proclaim his glory to the nations, not for those who demand a right of place.
Today is the third Sunday in a row that we have heard some version of Jesus’ warning that the first will be last, and the last first. By preference, Jesus continually sat down to eat with socially unsavoury people—extortionists, sex workers, the morally compromised and the like. Why? Not because they were righteous, but because they were open to him. The places that Jesus avoided were where the spiritually worldly and the self-referential lived; people unwilling to open the doors of their hearts to humbly welcome him.
What does your door say as the entrance to this house of the Church? As you come to dedicate this beautiful house of God, might you find a way of imagining its door as the opening for all who seek God’s kingdom? Not in its physical dimensions, but in its faith and spiritual dimensions. May this be a place where Jesus, who is always knocking on the door of our hearts, may enter and sit down at table with us, and us with him.
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli17 November 2023