Closed Doors

 

Obstacles.  Why are there always obstacles? It seems like everyday there’s some obstacle in my path. Sometimes, it’s the same ones again, but every now and then, something new pops up. I know the saying- what doesn’t destroy you will only make you stronger- but I dream of having just one day free of obstacles (a bright sunny day where nothing is lost, nothing breaks, no one has a problem, the gas tank is full, the meals are catered, the house is clean, my joints don’t ache, the phone doesn’t ring a work and every door is open to me). When I think about it, I do wonder what I would actually do with myself on such a day as that!

Of course I have to laugh at myself because I realize that compared to most people in the world, my obstacles are small indeed. For so many millions, the main obstacle is just finding enough to eat or a place to sleep. Yet, it never helps to compare because my obstacles are my own and it’s what I have to deal with, and I just don’t like them.

The harlot Mary faced an obstacle. Try as she might, she just couldn’t get into the church in Jerusalem. Even though crowds were pressing in through the open doors, for her the door was shut. How could this be? Isn’t it true that God’s door is always open? Jesus died on the Cross to save sinners, and that Sunday they were celebrating the Elevation of the Cross. Mary should have been the guest of honor!

How it must have shocked her at first, but then she felt shame when she realized that it was because of her own sinfulness that the door was closed. On the porch, before the Mother of God, that perfect image of motherhood and femininity, the harlot had to face herself for the first time. Only then was the door opened to her. What impresses me the most about this is that once she was able to enter in, she then spent the rest of her life dealing with the issues that closed her heart to the Lord.

To be truthful, the biggest obstacle I have in my life is myself. It isn’t that God hasn’t opened doors for me, I have shut the door in God’s face. Remember the words of the Lord in the book of Revelation? “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” (Rev. 3.20) Sinner that I am, God doesn’t bar me at the door like he did the harlot Mary. I bar him and refuse to open my heart to him. He knocks –how many times a day do I hear him knocking-but I will not open the door and let Him in.

When will I face it and deal with it? Mother Mary, even after God so graciously opened the door for you in Jerusalem, you spent your whole life finding out why.  It wasn’t enough for you that you had been allowed in, you wanted to remove all of the obstacles in your heart so that Christ would come and dwell there.

Holy Mother Mary, why do I keep the door closed and place an obstacle between the Lord and myself? Why do I wallow in persistent and habitual sin? Why do I refuse to pray and fast? Why am I so spiritually lazy that I can’t study or give to the Lord the worship that is due? Why do I let the world or the devil set both the tone and the pace of my life? Above all, why am I so afraid to open the door to the One who so graciously opened the door for me just because I asked Him?

Holy Mother Mary, God opened the door to you and you fought mightily to open the door of your heart to Him. You said that the beasts that you battled were in your own soul. How you fought until the beasts were defeated and Christ dwelt richly in your heart, as he promised he would. Mother, again today, God has opened the door for me and I stand in His Church, but I have barely begun to open my heart to him. I have invited him in, but then I slam the door in his face.

Lord, ungrateful sinner that I am, you should have barred me at the door of this Church, but once again you have allowed me to pass the threshold. Now, help me to return the favor, and open my heart to you. Mother Mary of Egypt,  help me to cross my Jordan River and enter into my desert. Show me the path of real repentance that I may slay the beast within me and open the door to my Lord.

Holy Mother Mary of Egypt, pray to God for me.


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