Fourth Sunday of Easter A – 30 April 2023
Lectionary Readings: Acts 2: 14a. 36-41; Ps. 23:1-6; 1 Pt. 2:20-25; Jn. 10:1-10
Theme: “Whoever enters by me”
On this Sunday English-speaking Christians may hear, as they listen to the Gospel, the Greek word thuros translated either as ‘gate’ or as ‘door’. The basic meaning of thuros is ‘opening’. It comes from the root ‘thuo’ which means ‘to rush in’: a door is what blocks the opening when necessary and can also be opened to allow people or animals through. In a similar way, the basic meaning of ‘window’ is ‘opening’. It comes from the Old Norse vindhauga [‘wind eye’]. It is basically a hole in the wall which lets in light and air. We may think of a closed and locked door as a good thing – it gives us the power over whom to let in and whom to keep out. I have a childhood memory of an evening when my parents and I heard someone ringing the doorbell at our back door. My father went to open it, and while he was talking to the man who had rung the bell (he claimed that he was lost and needed directions), an accomplice entered our house by our unlocked front door and stole my mother’s purse! She was reading to me at the time and we were absorbed in Mary Poppins; had either of us looked up from the book we would have seen him as he snatched up her purse from the table in the front hall. My mother was certainly not pleased at the loss of her purse and its contents but she never said that my father should not have responded to the door bell and opened the door. After all, it might have been a neighbour who needed help, or a stranger to the area who really had got lost.
When Jesus says “I am the door” he is telling us how open and vulnerable he makes himself to us. In his commentary on this passage, Lesslie Newbigin wrote about our need for both “security and freedom” and how it may seem “that one can be had only at the cost of the other”. Jesus offers us both:
…the way, or door, which Jesus is, is both the way by which he comes to us and the way by which we move out of established securities to find new freedom in serving him in the world. We have the freedom to move in and out, and we find all our needs supplied. [Newbigin, 127]
I find Newbigin’s words challenging, perhaps all the more so because of the pandemic. This has made us wary of associating with other people and more inclined to stay at home with our “established securities” and our doors firmly shut. Even before the pandemic, services such as Netflix encouraged staying at home instead of going out to share the experience of watching a movie with others.
For Reflection and Discussion: What have been your experiences of doors – opening them, keeping them shut? Have there been doors closed when you wished to enter? Doors opened that you now regret going through? How do you balance your need for both freedom and security? Are there things you would like to do and places you would like to visit but for some reason you hold back?
Bibliography: Newbigin, Lesslie. The Light Has Come: An Exposition of the Fourth Gospel (Grand Rapids MI, 1982).
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Anne Morton, Canada, Bat Kol Alumna 2010