13 December 2007 Thursday of the 2nd Week of Advent
Matthew 11, 12-15 At Heaven’s Gate
Verse 12 says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is taken by storm, and the violent take it by force.” Luke is saying that every person storms his way into the Kingdom, as soldiers who would seize a city in desperation. They would bang the door, hammer it, and knock it down until they are able to enter. In other words, we enter the Kingdom of God more often out of desperation than when we are calm and when we do not need anything.
There is some truth to this saying. Many of us come to God from helpless and hopeless situations. We come to attend mass when we are distraught over family quarrels. We pray when we are anxious and frantic. We try to calm ourselves down when we are distressed and distracted. We come when someone dies and there is no one who can console us. We come to the Lord when we are suddenly diagnosed with a terminal illness or when there is no cure at hand. We find ourselves literally running to the church after a break-up, when there is no one else to turn to. We come finally to God when an exam that would affect all of our future and all of our families and all of our expectations is due. It is that time when we would plead and promise this and that if God would grant our requests. It is the time when we say, “please, please, please, please Lord... “
We find ourselves literally storming heaven’s door with our prayers and supplications; with tears and trembling.
Sometimes, many people are troubled by others who don’t seem to need God. Many parents who are religious and God-fearing would worry about their sons and daughters who do not see why they have to pray. They themselves struggle to convince their children how important the spiritual life is. When we are young and we have lived a comfortable life with doting parents who provide everything, we often find coming to church a meaningless ritual. We are in a stage in which our primary concern is themselves and how we will be accepted by our friends. Someone asked me: what would you do to this student who says he doesn’t believe in God? I said, “Wait till something happens, he or she will find herself at heaven’s gate.” My experience tells me that at the latest, a person returns to God at the brink of death.
In the season of Advent, let us reflect on desperate situations. Are you one of us who violently knock at heaven’s gate? What do you pray for repeatedly and desperately? Would you trust in the promise that God will one day open his door and answer you?