“Lord, open the door for us.”
Sounds like all the kids at our door every Halloween.
Who do you think will come knocking at your door tonight?
Historically, Halloween, contrary to the rumors calling it a pagan religious event, is actually a Christian celebration that’s nearly 1,300 years old. “Halloween” is a name that is simply a contraction of “All Hallows Eve” – the vigil of All Hallows Day – which we celebrate now as All Saints Day. The word “Hallow,” as a noun, is an old English word for saint. As a verb, it means to make something holy or to honor it as holy. All Saints Day, November 1, is a Holy Day of Obligation (so be sure to get to mass!), and both the feast and the vigil have been celebrated since Pope Gregory III instituted them in the early eighth century.
On the eve of the Feast of All Saints, people will come to our doors in hoards, dressed as all kinds of things. We’ll see ghosts and sports-stars, goblins and politicians, witches and princesses, bumble bees and dinosaurs, giraffes and super-heroes. Perhaps we’ll see some dressed as holy women or men. They knock, hoping for acceptance and some graciousness and sustenance. And for what we give them, well, we really get nothing in return.
Today’s Gospel reminds me very much of this. Jesus says that “After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’”
What costume would you wear when knocking on the door to God’s house? If you’re at all like me, you’d likely want to hide in the clothing of a Super Hero, Saint, or some other amazing and unflawed character. I certainly wouldn’t want to show up as a devil, scary ghost, or – worse of all – myself… the Costume Built of All I’ve Said & Done.
But that’s exactly what will happen. We’ll show up, in front of God, wearing a garment borne of all the scars, all the hurt, all the sin, all the mistakes, all the humanness that we’ve lived. Our “costume” is one of our own making, the good and the bad.
For me, that’s the most frightening costume of all.
But that doesn’t have to scare us! God loves us, and offers us so many opportunities to turn back to Him and be saved! Everything from the Sacrament of Reconciliation to many of the prayers we recite during mass, if only we would truly mean it.
“Kyrie elieson.” “Lord, have mercy.”
“Miserere nobis.” “Have mercy on us.”
For me, though, the strongest is a prayer we recite at every Eucharist:
“O Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
We can be healed… and the treats at God’s house are beyond imagination.
Dear God, thank you for the gift of your never-ending love.
Hear me knock on your door,
and please, grant the grace of your mercy to me, a sinner, looking to change. Amen.
Paul Puccinelli is Director of Liturgy & Music at St. Rita Parish in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the retreat team at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center.