Remember the last time, you vigorously knocked on someone’s door? Perhaps, no one answered on the first or second knock. Did you become a bit concerned? No one’s home? Am I late? Or is this the wrong day?
When’s the last time you knocked on God’s door? Can you guess? Actually, it happened at the last Mass you participated in. The Sign of the Cross is the believer knocking at God’s door, wanting to get into the Lord’s house.
Jesus gave his Apostles this knock-sign just before returning to heaven: Go Baptize, In the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. As Jesus enters heaven, he sends the Apostles out, to open doors to him, so the world can go where he has gone. Making the sign of our Baptism, the sign of the Cross, with holy water as we enter the church, we hitch a ride heavenward. For this reason every baptism begins at the doors of the church. Each entry into church refreshes our Baptism.
St. Gerard’s Church, in Buffalo, on Bailey and West Delevan has an interesting door. Over the main entrance, is written in Latin: This is the House of God and Gate of Heaven. Jesus’ Cross, this gesture of prayer is the key that opens heaven’s door.
We bless ourselves after entering God’s door with holy water and the Sign of the Cross. This reminds us of our first-ever entry into God’s house, when we became true children of God the Father at Baptism, members of God’s household.
This Cross-entrance with Holy Water refreshes the youthful enthusiasm of our faith. The psalmist remembers the joy of his youth as he went to the house of the Lord!
God’s house is even more then the great stones of St. Gerard’s Churchsymbolize. It far surpasses the brick, mortar and wood of our parish churches. God’s house is made of persons, as a matter of fact the same three divine persons that form the sign of the Cross: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Cross supports the roof and roots the foundation. All elements are divine persons, rather than materials made by human hands.
That’s why the Sign of the Cross can also be called the Sign of the Holy Trinity. It is the sign of one household formed from three living, active, divine Persons. God’s house is alive. It opens up when we mindfully pray the Sign of the Cross, the Holy Trinity, and knock.
Consider this heirloom picture of a European “field cross”. The wood beam is firmly rooted in the ground and rises straight to support Jesus’ body. Its arms reveal Jesus’ words: when I am lifted up I will draw all things to myself (Jn 12:32). Jesus raises us up with His cross. He raises us heavenward as St. Paul says in his Resurrection Sunday affirmation: set your mind on things above (Col 3:2). Christ draws us upward towards the house of His Father.
The roof over the cross denotes God, the Father’s love, care, and protection from on high. The Almighty is our best security plan. Under his roof we are saved, once, for all and forever. Note also, how the arms of the field cross have no walls. God’s House is open to the world and its beams extend, around the world. This is how God loves us infinitely, unconditionally and neither present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rm 8:38-39).
Why no walls? You may ask. The eternal God, Lord and Maker is the rock of our salvation. Into the firm foundation of Jesus’ church the Creator planted Jesus’ victorious Cross. From these beams, Jesus has conquered all troubles, challenges, disasters, and trials for all time. He has not removed them, He prevailed over them. We need not fear, for holding fast to His Cross and resting under heaven’s protective roof, Jesus is victor, now and forever.
No walls also means that the breeze of the Holy Spirit may cool us, feverish and anxious, hot-and-bothered as on a muggy summer day. Being securely protected from many harmful elements, under the Father’ s roof and near the Son’s Cross we can get hurt, but never be fatally wounded. God’s breath, the wind of the Holy Spirit revives our droopy spirit, fortifies perseverance in distress, and heals the wounded heart. The Holy Spirit gives birth in us to sevenfold celestial gifts and bountiful fruits others can gather on earth. Mass is a great time for gathering, healing, rejoicing, and, feasting.
Sunday Mass is our entrance into the Son’s victory banquet in God’s house. Knock and enter through the Cross of the Risen Lord and rest high above your cares, at his feet as did the forgiven Martha and his Apostle John.
How many times this week have you knocked on God’s door to renew your baptismal birthright and meet Jesus personally in His Trinity house? Personally, we enter by spending time praying.
Together, signing ourselves with the Cross/Trinity/Water sign is the knock that
opens the door to the church so we can to take our seat at God’s Table. Once we sign ourselves individually with water, we all sign ourselves together, following the priest’s lead, and Mass begins. Now we’re really in this all together!
NEXT: God greets us, we enter.