Over 150 years ago, a very famous English painter, Holman Hunt painted the picture known today as “The light of the world”. In it we see the figure of Christ holding a lamp (candle) in his hand. Christ stands in front of a door and knocks. The door is the door of the human soul.
Why do we begin our reflection with this image?
We are very close to the end of the liturgical year. During this time the Sunday readings show signs of the final (eschatological, apocalyptical) coming of Christ. So is today. We read in the Gospel: “when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates (at the door)”. The final coming of Christ is described by the Greek word Parousia. But Christ comes to us not only on the Last Day but also every day in different ways. Let us talk today about how Christ comes to us in everyday life. I would like to mention five ways in which Christ comes to us.
The first one is prayer.
We not only experience Christ in our personal prayer, but also in liturgical, community prayer like the Holy Eucharist. In today’s second reading, from the Letter to Hebrews, we read about Christ: “He offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God”.
When I studied in Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, we went to the Temple Mount. Our professor of Biblical Archaeology explained to us how the temple of Jerusalem looked. She said: “At the place where the mosque with the golden dome stands (the Dome of the Rock) was the Holy of Holies – the most holy place in the temple. Once a year on the Day of Atonement (Jom Kippur) the High Priest used to enter this place to pronounce three times the name: Yahweh. I tried to imagine the scenes. It was astonishing. Only once a year could the High Priest appear there. Yet Christ entered the Most Holy Place once and for ever. This is what the author of the Letter to Hebrews says. Christ is now in heaven at the right hand of his Father. When we celebrate the Eucharist, heaven is joined to earth. We enter for a moment into the Most Holy place because the Eucharist is a piece of heaven on earth. Jesus comes to us in prayer and especially in the Eucharist.
The second way in which Christ comes to us is through the Word of God – the Holy Bible.
Every time we read the Bible, God speaks straight to our heart. You probably remember the confession of St. Augustine. Augustine faced a very difficult decision in his life. He did not know what to do. He prayed and prayed and prayed and nothing happened. At one point, he heard a child’s voice saying: Tolle et lege!(Take and read!). He opened his Bible and came across a passage from the Letter to the Romans. After reading a few sentences something unexpected happened. A great light flowed into his heart. God spoke to him through the words of the Bible because God comes to us in the words of the Bible.
The third way by which Jesus comes to us is through other people.
We are in Wrocław. Wrocław is a city of Edith Stein.Once when, as a young Jewish woman, she was visiting a friend of hers, she took a book out of her library. It was biography of Saint Teresa. She read this book all night. It made a huge impression on her. A few days later she asked for baptism. Jesus came to her life through the other person, Saint Teresa.
The fourth way by which Jesus comes to us is through the events of our lives.
We have to be very careful and keep our eyes open. Sometimes we do not understand what is happening in our lives, but God is able to show us the true meaning of these events.
For example, I broke my arm a month ago. It was not God who broke my arm. It was not Jesus who broke my arm. It was my stupidity. But maybe through this event God wants to tell me something. I guess He is saying to me: Slow down, Mariusz! Slow down!
The fifth way by which Jesus will come to me is through the Parousia.
No one knows when it will happen, neither the angels nor the Son but the Father. So we have to be ready.
Jesus Christ is at the door of your soul. In the painting of Holman Hunt the door has no handle on the outside. Jesus can only knock, but he cannot open the door. You can open the door from the inside. It’s your decision, it’s your choice. If you want to be sure to open the door of your soul to Christ on the day of the Parousia, you should open it every day of your life. He continues to come to us: through prayer, through the words of the Bible, through other people and through events in our lives. Let us pray that we can recognise his coming each day of our Christian lives.