With the school year beginning soon, I am reminded of one of my deficiencies as a student in high school. Band was the first period of the day. It began at 8:20 a.m. I enjoyed sleeping too much, so I was notorious for crossing the threshold just before the door closed on me. On many occasion I would slip in just as the bell rang. Mr. Schopp my band teacher would just shake his head and say, “One of these times you’re not going to make it Morgan”. Well, one of those times happened. As the bell went silent Mr. Schopp was at the door to meet me. “Upstairs to the Principal’s Office!” Let’s just say it didn’t go well with my mom and dad.
What does the image of a door say to us about the kingdom of God?
Jesus’ story about the door being shut to those who come too late suggests they had offended their host and deserved to be excluded. It was customary for teachers in Jesus’ time to close the door on tardy students and not allow them back for a whole week in order to teach them a lesson in discipline and faithfulness.
Christ told this story in response to the question: Who will make it to heaven? Many rabbis held that all Israel would be saved and gain entry into God’s kingdom, with the exception of blatant sinners who excluded themselves. After all, they were specifically chosen by God when he established a covenant relationship with Israel.
Jesus surprised his listeners by saying that one’s membership as a people who have entered into a covenant relationship with God does not automatically mean entry into the everlasting kingdom of heaven. Second, Jesus asserts that many from the Gentile (non-Jewish) nations would enter God’s kingdom. God’s invitation is open to Jew and Gentile alike.
Jesus warns that we can be excluded if we do not strive to enter by the narrow door.
This door is Christ himself, and, our desire to live by his commands. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved (Jn 10:9). God sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to open the way for us to have full access to the throne of God’s grace (favor and blessing) and mercy (pardon for our sins). Through Jesus’ victory on the cross he has freed us from slavery to sin and hurtful desires and addictions. He has made us sons and daughters of God and citizens of his heavenly kingdom.
We are free now to choose which kingdom we will serve – the kingdom of truth and light ruled by God’s wisdom … or the kingdom of falsehood and darkness, those philosophies and ideas which are opposed to God and his laws which are so prevalent in our world today. The good news is that we do not struggle alone. God is with us and His grace is sufficient. As we strive side by side for the faith of the Gospel (Phil 1:27) Jesus assures us of complete victory.
Fr. James Morgan