Most of us have seen a copy of William Holman Hunt’s painting “The Light of the World”, representing the figure of Jesus preparing to knock on an overgrown and long-unopened door, illustrating a verse from today’s first reading from the book of the Apocalypse 3:20
“Look, I am standing at the door knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal, side by side with him.”
According to Hunt: the door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside, representing “the obstinately shut mind”. It was on display at the wonderful “Seeing Salvation” exhibition at the National Gallery in the year 2000. It is up to us to open the door from the inside. Jesus will not force his way into our heart or into our lives.
It links with today’s Gospel story of Jesus encountering Zacchaeus and wanting to eat with him. Zacchaeus could have made excuses but he welcomed him. The consequence of Jesus saying with him and sharing his table was that Zacchaeus had a profound change of heart. St John Paul II, in his first homily after he had been elected Pope, said
“Brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. Help the Pope and all those who wish to serve Christ and with Christ’s power to serve the human person and the whole of mankind. Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ.”
Am I ready today to open wide the door of my heart to Jesus? He is standing and knocking.