Enlarge the Door
In his bi-weekly column for FamVin, A Vincentian View: Enlarge the Door, Fr. Pat Griffin of the Eastern Province suggests that the Church have the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect!
Psalm 24, which was the responsorial psalm on this past Sunday, summons a Christian to think seriously about the size of the entrance which he/she allows for the Lord to enter his/her domain. Listen again to its words (24:7-8):
Lift up your heads, O gates;
be lifted, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may enter.
Who is this king of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in war.
Then it repeats (almost) those exact words (24:9-10).
One imagines the psalmist calling to mind the gates that lead into the Holy City, Jerusalem. The psalmist insists that the gate is too small to welcome the Lord, to offer him entrance. The door needs to be enlarged! “Lift up your heads, O gates! Rise up, you ancient portals.”
Do you hear the summons addressed to each one of us?
The Psalm suggests that the Lord whom we serve cannot be whittled down to our acceptable size. The greatness of our God does not yield to the limits of our minds and conform to the confines of our conditions. Any attempt to carry out this feat of prideful human engineering will result in an unceremonious crashing down of the gates. No. The gates must be tall and wide enough for the Lord to enter without hesitation or compromise.
To prepare these gates requires a new way of thinking and acting. A well-designed gate can make respectful engagement and communication possible. It allows for excursions into a different way of discovering and expressing the truth. It suggests that originality in thinking and planning can yield unexpected results blessed by the Holy Spirit. The Lord and the Gospel can open minds and hearts as they are welcomed into our lives.
You have to love Pope Francis. I do. He offers a clear challenge to the supremacy of the gate. He powerfully addresses us as well as the Synod of Bishops regarding the Church and its entryways:
And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem. (“Address of Francis for the Conclusion of the 3rd Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops,” 18 Oct 14)
Personally and institutionally we must enlarge our doors to allow the King of Glory and his entire entourage entrance and application.