The word of the day is “open.” At times in our excitement as well as our distress, we fail to focus on the most important thing of all, our relationship with Jesus Christ. We find Peter knocking on the door of Mary’s house in our reading of Acts 12:12-17. He has escaped from prison and made his way to the house where the believers are keeping a prayer vigil for him. Luke says, “He came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying” (OSB 12).
A girl answers the door and recognizes Peter’s voice. She runs to tell the believers that Peter is standing at the gate. But she has forgotten something–the most essential thing. Today, we consider how we can also forget the one thing needed in our spiritual lives.
Peter Left Standing Outside While People Pray for Him Inside
While Peter stands at the gate, a maidservant (Strong’s #3814) runs to share the astonishing news that Peter who was in prison had appeared at the door of the house. The believers did not believer her but engaged in a debate whether she was deluded or had seen Peter’s angel (vs. 14). Meanwhile Peter keeps knocking (vs. 16).
Finally, someone has the presence of mind to check the entrance to the house. Yes, it is Peter who silenced everyone so that he could relate how the Lord brought him out of prison (vs. 17). He never does enter the house but leaves instructions that the astounded believers should tell “James and the brethren” about what had happened. And then he leaves for “an undisclosed location,” a refuge from Herod who would try to imprison him again.
A Metaphor for the One Who Stands at the Door
We might take this humorous story as a metaphor in our spiritual lives. There is One who stands at our door. But have we forgotten something– the most essential thing? Today, we consider who knocks at the entrance of our hearts like Peter did before the door of Mary’s house. It is the Crucified and Risen Christ. He states in Revelation, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me” (OSB Revelation 3:20). But are we like Rhoda neglecting to let Him in? Are we failing to answer his persistent knocking? Are we, perhaps so excited that He is there at the doorstep of our hearts that we neglect to invite Him to come in?
It is not only preoccupations that can keep us from opening the door of our hearts to him as He stands beside us. Even holy and sacred things can keep Him waiting. The beauty and grandeur of the rituals of the church may overwhelm us. The elation of corporate praise may overpower us. The eloquence of a preacher may stir us. But if these spiritual experiences do not prompt us to open our hearts to the Lord, then the Lord is still standing at the gate of our hearts.
The Lord said, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (OSB John 14:22). Note: what must we do for the the Father and the Son to come to us and make their home with us? We must love the Lord (above all else) and follow His teaching instead of anything else. Worldly distractions are other loves. Earthly agendas are other pursuits. The aims and ambitions of this world are other desires.
It may be that we have gone so far in our spiritual lives that we are ready to hear this gentle invitation of the Lord. He has stood beside us through many trials of this life. He is faithful and He still stands at our side, ready to help us in any need. But now, perhaps, He wants to be more than our benefactor, provider, and protector. He wants to come in to stay, to dwell, and to reign in our hearts. If we have heard Him knocking, let us have the presence of mind to welcome him.