1 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 8-10; Psalm 149:1-6, 9;Matthew 23:13-22
21st Week in Ordinary Time
“You lock the kingdom of heaven before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance.” (Matthew 23:13)
Jesus accused these Pharisees of shutting the door of heaven in people’s faces. That’s a startling allegation. But how did they do it? Some burdened people with stringent rules. Some missed the heart of love embedded in the laws Law of Moses. Others tried to steer people away from Jesus by their teaching.
But let’s try to look at this from the other way around. After all, if you can close and lock a door, it stands to reason that you can also unlatch one and throw it wide! That’s the awesome truth tucked away in today’s Gospel. We can actually open the door of heaven for other people!
According to the Scriptures, this door is a person: Jesus! He is the “gate” and the “way” (John 10:9; 14:6). He is the ladder to heaven (1:51). But how can we, small humans that we are, open such a special door? By opening ourselves up! That way, people can come to see Jesus, who lives in us, and find their own way to a relationship with him.
Just as there are several ways to close a door, there’s more than one way to open it. We can open it through acts of kindness and love. We can try to encourage someone. A forgiving, compassionate heart can do it. Or we can look for opportunities to share about the difference that Jesus has made in our lives.
Jesus said that these Pharisees went to great lengths—even traversing sea and land—to find other people and train them in their ways (Matthew 23:15). While he frowned on the end result, the way they went the extra mile to win people over was remarkable. It worked! Similarly, if we want to usher people through heaven’s door, we too will have to go out of our way to build relationships with them. Friendly phone conversations, casual lunches, and the like can provide new opportunities to open up. Of course, we can’t pursue everyone. But we can pursue a few. You could even start with a list of three names. With some prayer, some planning, and some reaching out, you may even get the privilege of holding heaven’s door open as a friend walks through!
“Lord, is there someone for whom you’re asking me to hold open heaven’s door?”~WAU