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Memorial of St. Monica
2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11-12
Psalm 96:1-2A, 2B-3, 4-5
Matthew 23:13-22
In 2 Thessalonians, Christians are commended for their faith toward God and love
for their neighbor. As well, we hear how their suffering is a sign of God’s love,
not His anger. Then, in the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus is furious with
the leaders of the church and calls them “hypocrites”. Their ways have been ex-
clusionary to the Kingdom of God, even for themselves.
“You lock the Kingdom of Heaven before men. You do not enter yourselves,”
Jesus tells the crowds and his disciples. He is very angry with religious leaders
for leading people away from God’s word. Is it possible the church leaders got so
wrapped up in religious practice that they lost sight of the goal, the Kingdom of
God? So wrapped up that they shut their own hearts and minds to God’s King-
What’s most amazing to me is that the religious leaders actually shut themselves
out from God’s Kingdom! Was it a case of “I’m not going so you’re not going ei-
ther”? Or were they so blinded that they forgot their goal? I reflect back on times
in my life when I “shut the door”, closed my eyes and ears, to God’s Kingdom. I
never suffered at the hands of church leaders leading me astray; I could manage
that all on my own. I guess the more important question is why did I, or why do
we, close off our best option? How foolish and arrogant I was to think other
things mattered more or I could fly solo in some situations.
The message that resonates for me in this reading is “Don’t shut the door!”
Whenever we fall from grace, find ourselves indifferent to God or flat out rebel
against Him, we are shutting ourselves off from His love. We have daily opportu-
nity to live in God’s Kingdom. God offers each of us an open door to Heaven, but
we can shut ourselves out if we reject his offer. Jesus is the door. He makes it
possible for us to enter and have access to heaven and God our Father. John 14:6
says: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except
through me.