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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Door of Humility

 A Reflection on Luke 13:22-30

By: Larry T 

One of the highpoints of any Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land has to be the tour of the Church of the Nativity. Located in Bethlehem, in the Palestinian territories, it is built over the site considered to be the birthplace of Jesus. The church was originally commissioned in 327 A.D. by the emperor Constantine and his mother Helena. The original structure was burned down and destroyed during a revolt between the Jews and the Samaritans in 529 or 556 A.D. The current basilica was rebuilt in its present form in 565 A.D. by the Emperor Justinian I. 

In modern times visitors enter the basilica through a very low door, called the Door of Humility. The church features a magnificent gold plated icon of Mary and the infant Jesus. The interior of the church is dimly lit by high windows and a complex array of chain hung ornate gold and silver lamps, mostly oil but some electric. The original Roman style floor has been overlaid with marble flooring, but there is a trap door which opens up to reveal a portion of the original, amazingly intricate, 4th century mosaic floor. The Altar of the Nativity, adorned with a white silk altar cloth, accompanied by red oil lamps, and tall white tapered candles is unquestionably the focal point of the church. Directly below the Altar is the fourteen-point silver star which marks the traditional spot believed to be the birthplace of our Lord Jesus. For pilgrims the climax of the tour is to crawl under the altar to touch or kiss the star or to reach through the hole in the center of the star to touch the earth below.  

The original main entrance into the reconstructed church was a pointed arch Crusader style doorway tall enough for a mounted horseman to pass through. The doorway eventually had to be made smaller to prevent carts from being driven in by looters and to force even the most important visitor to dismount from his horse as he entered the holy place. Dismounted pilgrims continued to enter the church with their horses, camels, and donkeys so the gateway was made even lower and narrower so that large animals had to be left outside the basilica. This spared the church from the damage, noise, and odor of the animals. The pointed Crusader arch can still be seen above the current door.  

In the reading for this week Jesus talks about striving to enter through the narrow gate.

22He passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
23Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them,
24“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.
25After 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.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’
26And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
27Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where (you) are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
28And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out.
29And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
30For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
- Luke 13:22-30 N.A.B. 

What does it take to enter through the narrow gate? Jesus tells us that the way through is not by belonging to a particular race or specific group of people, but by leaving behind that baggage which will prevent us from passing through it. Like early pilgrims who wanted to worship in the Church of the Nativity, we must choose between leaving our livestock outside and entering the holy place through the Door of Humility, or being stiff-necked and passing by it.
Peace to All


  1. Brought back lots of memories of our joint trip to Israel a few years back... Nice post, Larry! We spend our whole lives getting rid of collected "baggage," don't we?

  2. Larry your reflection gives me something to ponder! Thank you for sharing your insights and inspirations. The image of that small door is going to stay with me during my prayer time, gently reminding me to reflect on what baggage I am clinging to!


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