The Gospels always have little details that often get missed in the reading of the story.
It’s true that everything should be read in context and that we should avoid “cherry picking” scriptures to fit our agendas or narratives. That being said, this small detail from our Gospel today opens the doors to a whole new world of understanding. Whenever words or phrases are repeated, then the Gospel writer is trying to attract our attention to that particular thing.
We hear at the beginning of our Gospel today, “the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were.” Towards the end of the Gospel we hear again, “the doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them.”
There’s no real consensus on what this phrase, “doors were closed”, might mean but perhaps these reflections might be worth exploring as a part of our prayer times in the coming week.
In close relation to the phrase “the doors were closed” is the other phrase, “Jesus came and stood among them.” The closed doors in this regard, reveal to us that even for the risen Christ nothing can keep him away from being present. Christ is no longer subject to the finitude of time and space but now Christ is omnipresent, a trait belonging to his truly divine nature thereby validating the divinity of Christ’s resurrection. This was not just a hoax but Jesus’ resurrection was real!
The Greek word for door here is θύρα (thura) which could also mean an opportunity. When the doors were first closed, it was, as we’re told, “for fear of the Jews.” The second instance of the doors being closed was situated within the disbelief of Thomas the apostle. Here, the “closed door” phrase acts as a metaphor for the way a person would avoid receiving the resurrected Christ, either through fear or disbelief. If we want to receive Jesus’ resurrection then we’re to be people of courage with faith in Christ’s new life.
Finally, Jesus, earlier in John’s Gospel, tells the people in one of His great I AM statements that He is the “gate” or the “door” to the sheepfold (10:7). As Jesus enters into the rooms with “closed doors”. He reiterates this notion that He Himself is now the doorway into everlasting life. Although we might live in fear and disbelief Christ is the way forward and through Christ we can walk in confidence. Through Christ we can open doors.
Each position provides us with a unique point of reflection, all coming back to the person of Christ. Jesus is omnipresent, our source of courage and faith, and also our doorway into new life. Christ has risen from the dead. May our pondering of this great mystery help us to experience more deeply the resurrected Christ alive in this world and hopefully alive in our lives.
Fr William Aupito Iuliano