A READING FROM A COMMENTARY ON PSALM 118 BY ST AMBROSE
The divine Word, coming and knocking at the door of our soul, challenges our indolence and rouses us from slumber. His desire is always to enter and make his home with us. It is our own fault, therefore, if he does not always do so, or if, having once entered, he does not always stay with us.
Let your door stand open to receive him, unlock your soul to him, lay bare the hidden recesses of your mind. Show him the coffers of innocence, the treasure house of peace; let him see how beautiful his grace has made you. Throw wide the gate of your heart, run toward the sun whose unfailing light shines on every man. That true light shines for everyone, but those who close their windows deprive themselves of its eternal radiance. If you shut the door of your mind you shut out Christ. Though he has the power to enter, he does not care to burst in uninvited or to force himself upon us against our will.
Born of a virgin, Christ came forth from the womb to shed his light over the whole world, so that everything might be illumined by his rays. His light is received by all who long to see the splendour of that everlasting glory which no darkness can ever dim. Here, the sun of our daily experience is succeeded by the darkness of night; but the sun of holiness knows no setting since wisdom can never give place to evil.
Blessed is the soul at whose door Christ stands and knocks. Our door is faith; if faith is strong enough, the whole house is safe. That is the door by which Christ enters. Let us be alert, then, otherwise the Bridegroom may come and find himself shut out, and so take his departure. But if your heart is watchful, he will knock and ask you to open your door to him.
Our soul has its door, our soul has its gates – gates of which Scripture says: Swing back your gates, captains of the guard; swing back, everlasting gates! Let the King of glory enter! Heaven must surely lie within those souls whose gates are everlasting. If you will swing back the gates of your faith, the King of glory will enter your house in triumphal procession, bearing the insignia of his own passion.
Holiness too has its gates. We find in Scripture those words that the Lord Jesus spoke through his prophet: Open for me the gates of holiness, and that other text: Praise the Lord, Jerusalem; Zion, praise your God, for he has strengthened the bars of your gates.
It is the soul, therefore, that has its door, its gates, and to this door and these gates Christ comes and knocks. Open up to him; his desire is to enter, to find his bride watching and waiting for his coming.
St Ambrose, Sermo 12, 13-15 (CSEL 62, 258-260), from Word in Season 1