The Lord Who Stands at the Door (Mon. May 15)

Christ is risen.

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 believe 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 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 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.

For Reflection

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, and is ready to help us now in any need. However, He wants to be more than our benefactor, provider, and protector. He wants to come in to our hearts to dwell and to reign. If we have heard Him knocking, let us have the presence of mind to welcome him.

About Fr. Basil

Now retired, the Very Rev. Archpriest Basil Ross Aden has served as a parish priest, parish pastor, diocesan mission director, writer, and college teacher of New Testament and Religious Studies. He has a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago and has published daily devotional and stewardship materials as well as a college textbook on Religious Studies. He also has published papers and/or lectured on the Orthodox perspective on Luther and the Reformation. religious freedom, current issues of religion and society, and St. John Chrysostom. He is married to Sandra and has two sons and three grandchildren. He is still active as a priest as well as a writer of articles and materials on Orthodoxy and topics of faith and life today.


    1. Dear Francine: thank you for your comment. Gory to God! Please see my reply to Sophia for more reflection. Blessed Feast of the Ascension. God bless, Fr. Basil

  1. Christ is Risen! Thank you Fr. Basil for this reflection.
    How do we welcome the Lord into our hearts? Is this a one time event or more like a day to day welcoming? Is it only a matter of prayer or also some other action on our side?

    1. Dear Sofia; You have asked a profound question worth a great deal of prayer and reflection. I will answer to the best of my understanding, but I hope you will continue to seek an answer. I suspect that there are as many replies to your question as those who ask them because the opening of the heart does not happen by any formula, rule of prayer, or “work” that earns it. I believe that it is a movement of the Holy Spirit within the soul that only requires the consent of faith, the response of love, and the willingness of obedience.
      Thus, St. Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians was “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height, to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
      Responding to this passage, St. John Chrysostom comments, “How doeth Christ dwell in the hearts?”. He refers to the words of Jesus in John 14:23, “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. Chrysostom concludes, “He [Christ] dwelleth in those hearts that are faithful, in those that are “rooted” in His love, those that remain firm and unshaken” (NfPf13).
      These comments may remind us of an evangelical interpretation that the comments apply to unbelievers and require a “conversion” experience.” Yet, this perspective would mean that the Lord here speaks to the unconverted but not to those who believe and are baptized. However, consider the context of the image of Christ knocking at the door. John is told to write to “angel” of the Church of Laodicea, a congregation that has grown lukewarm in their faith (Rev. 3:14-19). We learn in this passage that the Laodiceans are spiritually self-satisfied and complacent. Therefore, they are to be warned of the Lord’s disapproval (Rev. 1). Thus, the Lord says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore the Laodiceans are exhorted to be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:19), for the Lord stands at the door and knocks.
      To open the door of one’s heart is an act of repentance. Yes, we might say that the Lord is already in our hearts for we have been baptized into Christ and we received His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. So then it would seem that Christ dwells within us. And yet, the metaphor warns us that we can shut Him out of our lives. We can drift far away from Him in Spirit, taking our baptism and our Holy Communion for granted.
      Then too, our hearts can become so crowded with worldly cares and desires that, in a sense, they have no room for His living Presence. Or it may be so cluttered with sins and passions that the Lord’s presence is lost in the mess of our souls.
      If these describe the conditions of our hearts, then we need to open our hearts wide to His grace and all its spiritual blessings. And we need to let Him do a thorough housecleaning of our hearts, as St. Paul says writes and we apply to our Lenten repentance, “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7).
      These thoughts give us some new perspectives on repentance to consider. Turning to the Lord for His forgiveness is negative in its emphasis on cleansing. It also is positive as it includes faith, love, and obedience. In both cases these movements of the Spirit require an open heart.

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