Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me. (Rev 3:20)
JESUS addressed these words, not to pagans, but to the church in Laodicea. Yes, we the baptized need to open our hearts to Jesus. And if we do, we can expect two things to happen.
First published June 19th, 2007
THE TWO-FOLD LIGHT
I remember as a child when one of my parents opened the door of our bedroom at night. The light was comforting as it pierced the darkness. But it was also convicting, as usually the door was opened to tell us to settle down!
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” When He comes as light, I may experience great consolations and a profound sense of joy or peace, particularly at the beginning of the spiritual life or at moments of deeper conversion. I am drawn to the Light, to look at the Light, to love the Light. But because the Light loves me so much, when I am ready, He begins to reveal something more.
Suddenly, things begin to get difficult again. I seem to fall back almost helplessly into old habits. I may find temptation to be more fierce, other people to be more irritating, and the trials of life to be more intense and difficult. Here is where I must begin to walk by faith, as my sight seems obscured, all the feelings, gone. I may feel that the Light has abandoned me. However, this is not the case at all. Jesus promised He would be with us “until the end of the age.” Rather, I am now experiencing, not the “warmth” of the Light, but its luminescence.
All I see now is this sinful and wretched mess illuminated on the floor of my heart. I thought I was holy, but discover in a most painful way that I am not whole. Here is where I must awaken my faith in Jesus as my savior. I must remind myself why the Light came to me in the first place. Jesus’ name means “Yahweh saves.” He came to save us from our sins. So now, He is beginning to save me from my sin by revealing it to me through the light of truth, because He loves me.
Then the eyes of [Adam and Eve] were opened, and they realized that they were naked. (Gen 3:7)
Now the Accuser stands nearby, knowing full well that I am about to become more like Christ if I begin to walk by faith. And so he utters words to discourage me:
Some Christian you are! So much for your conversion! So much for all the things God has done for you! You have fallen again into that which He saved you from. You are such a disappointment. Why bother trying so hard? What is the use? You will never be a saint…
And on and on the Accuser goes.
But Jesus stands at the doorway of my heart and says,
You have opened the door of your heart to Me, the Light of the world. With joy I have come, even though I, who am God, knew that this mess would be on the floor of your heart. Behold, I have come not to condemn you, but to clean it up, so that you and I may have a place to sit and dine together.
This firm resolution to become a saint is extremely pleasing to Me. I bless your efforts and will give you opportunities to sanctify yourself. Be watchful that you lose no opportunity that My providence offers you for sanctification. If you do not succeed in taking advantage of an opportunity, do not lose your peace, but humble yourself profoundly before Me and, with great trust, immerse yourself completely in My mercy. In this way, you gain more than you have lost, because more favor is granted to a humble soul than the soul itself asks for… —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1361
Now I am faced with a decision, either to believe the lies of Satan, or to accept the love and mercy of God. Satan wants me to imitate his sin of pride. He is tempting me to run to the door and slam it shut, couching my actions in words of false humility… that I am a miserable wretch, unworthy of God, and a cursed fool who deserves every bad thing.
…so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves… the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God. (Gen 3:7-8)
The other decision is to accept what I see in my heart as truth. Jesus wants me to imitate Him now. To become truly humble.
He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:8)
Jesus said the truth will set us free, and the very first truth which liberates us is the truth that I am a sinner. He wants me to open the door of my heart in humility, admitting that I am in need of forgiveness and healing, of grace and strength. It is also very humbling to accept that Jesus wants to give this to me freely, even though I do not deserve it. That He loves me, even though I feel unlovable.
Baptism is the first doorway to sanctification, the process of healing the scar of original sin. It is the beginning, not the end. Jesus is now applying the graces of Baptism by coming as light to reveal my need for a savior, my need to be healed and set free. The cross which He asks me to pick up, and then follow Him, is made up of two beams: my own weakness and my powerlessness to save myself. I am to accept them in humility upon my shoulder, and then follow Jesus to Calvary where by His wounds I am healed.
THROUGH THE SACRAMENTS
I take this cross upon my shoulder each time I enter the confessional. There, Jesus is waiting for me to acknowledge the mess upon the floor of my heart, so that He may wash it clean with His own blood. There, I meet the Light of the world who is also “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” To open the door of the confessional is to open the door of my heart. It is to step into the truth of who I have been, so that I may walk in the freedom of who I truly am: a son or daughter of the Father.
Jesus is preparing my heart for the Banquet, of not only His presence, but the presence of the Father.
Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. (John 14:23)
By confessing my sin and accepting that Jesus is my Lord, I am keeping His word which calls me to “repent and believe the good news.” He wishes to strengthen me to keep all of His word, because without Him, I “can do nothing.”
The Banquet He brings is His own Body and Blood. Having emptied myself in the confessional, Jesus comes to fill me with the Bread of Life. But He can only do so if I have opened my heart to Him in the first place. Otherwise, He will continue to stand outside the door, knocking.
OPEN WIDE YOUR HEARTS
A fast way to discouragement is to believe that once I’ve accepted Jesus as my savior, or once I’ve gone to Confession, that the whole floor of my heart is perfect. But the truth is, I have only opened the door of my heart a little bit. And so Jesus asks me again to open wide the door of my heart. Once again, I feel the warmth of the Light, and am drawn to Him through these consolations. The Light illumines my mind, filling me with greater perception, desire, and faith… faith to prepare me to accept further the darkness of purification. I open my heart to Him with the desire for more and more of Him, for more and more purification that will enable me to receive Him; trials and temptations will come, and as the Light of truth reveals more messes, stains, and needed repairs, once again I am confronted with the cross of my need, my need for a savior.
And so my journey with the cross is lived between the ever-flowing font of Confession, and the Eucharistic mount of Calvary, with Resurrection connecting both. It is a difficult and narrow road.
But it leads to eternal life.
Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. (1 Pet 4:13)
My daughter, you have not offered Me that which is really yours…. give Me your misery, because it is your exclusive property. —Jesus to St. Faustina, Diary, n. 1318
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)
Open wide your hearts to Jesus Christ. —POPE JOHN PAUL II
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SPIRITUAL RENEWAL AND HEALING CONFERENCE
with Mark Mallett
September 16-17th, 2011
St. Lambert Parish, Sioux Falls, South Daktoa, U.S.
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