The Door We Never Opened
Sunday Homily for April 13, 2008
Fourth Sunday of Easter
By Father Phil Bloom
Bottom line: Out of fear many have not opened the door that is Jesus. When he visits our country, Pope Benedict will renew the invitation.
In a haunting poem, T.S. Eliot speaks about a "door we never opened."
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
We all can think of doors we did not open. Perhaps sometimes it was for the better, but at other times we sense a great opportunity lost. In today's Gospel, Jesus invites us to open a door. It is the one door that really matters. He says, "I am the gate....I am the door." He promises that if we enter through him, we will have life, we "will be saved."
One of the great pains for me as a priest has been to meet people, brought up Catholic, who did not open that door. Perhaps someone never led them to it. Maybe they did not realize each person must open door for himself. Or perhaps they were afraid. They felt that if they opened the door, they would lose their freedom, they would enter into confined, restricted world. But Jesus says clearly that if a person enters through him they "will come in and go out.." He does not want slaves - but sons and daughters. And, ultimately, Jesus will not deny us any legitimate desire. He says that in him we will "find pasture." He will fulfill our needs and desires in a way we could never have imagined.*
This week many people will receive an invitation. As you know, our Holy Father will address the United Nations and visit Ground Zero - the site of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The media will cover his visit, including the Masses he will celebrate in New York City and Washington, D.C. I don't know what Pope Benedict will say to our country, but I do know this: His message will be the same as his earliest predecessor. We heard it today in the first reading:
Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins
Like St. Peter, Pope Benedict will call us to turn away from sin - those ways of thinking and acting that separate us from God and each other. And he will invite us to open the door - by prayer and the sacraments to enter a personal relationship with Jesus.
*Once a young woman had an alcohol problem. A person who cared about her pointed out that her pattern of drinking was harming her and could eventually ruin her life. The young woman said she did not care. She felt her life would be empty if she could not look forward to the next drink. But one day - in her misery - she opened her heart to the Lord. She did the unthinkable; she resolved not to drink again. God gave her real peace, power and freedom. Now she begins the day with a sense of anticipation of the adventure God has for her.