Image via WikipediaIn the reading today from the holy Gospel according to St. John the Theologian, our Lord says of Himself that He is “the door.” What does He mean when He says this? One place we can go for insight is the reading from the holy Gospel according to St. Mark: a memorable scene, in which a paralyzed man, carried by four friends to our Lord to be healed, is actually brought into His presence by being lowered through a hole they made in the roof. What does the Lord tell this man to heal him? “Your sins are forgiven.”
Of course, this stirs up the Pharisees, who sought at all times to live according to the 613 laws of Moses, because they thought that this was the pathway to salvation. Having dealt with the man’s problem, our Lord then dispels their objections by healing the man physically as well as spiritually, linking the two. This is important for us to understand; so let’s look at the objections raised by the dissenters.
“Who but God can forgive sins?” they ask. Our Lord thus shows all who would raise this objection that He is, indeed, God, by restoring the paralyzed man to physical health, so that he could stand, pick up his bed, and return without help to his home. So it is that we begin to understand how we should grasp that our Lord says of Himself, “I am the door.”
Remember that when Adam and Eve were cast out of Paradise, cut off from dwelling in the immediate and intimate presence of God, the gate – a form of a door – was guarded by cherubim with a flaming sword, to prevent Adam and Eve from seeking to return to the presence of God in that way. Now here is our Lord telling us that He, God, is the way for us to return to Paradise, to return to dwelling with God close by us – indeed, within us, something that Adam and Eve did not possess. He is the door to the abundant life He came to bring.
How do we access that door? We access it by becoming like Him: by drawing near to Him with faith, in love, through prayer and fasting and giving and forgiving; and by living at peace, with the love of God, with all those around us. And, to the extent we fail to do these things in love, we confess our sins, asking forgiveness, and starting again – even if we must break through our own ceiling, our earthly desires and attachments, in order to be lowered into His presence to be healed by the forgiveness of our sins.
Brothers and sisters, let us keep this in our hearts and on our minds as we journey through the forty days of fasting before Holy Week and Pascha. Let us remember that our Lord is the door by which we enter into eternal life; and let us, through the way of life of the Orthodox faith and church, strive to let the light and life of Christ be seen in and through us, so that we may enter through the Door, and bring others with us as well.