Somebody is knocking at your door, and that somebody is Jesus! Jesus is not your typical visitor. The usual guest comes at a prearranged time, but not Jesus. Jesus gets to do whatever he wants, which means that he can come on any day at any time, either today, tomorrow, or a day in the distant future.
If we have dinner guests scheduled, there often is a mad rush to get everything ready by their arrival time. It would look terrible if there were piles of dirty clothes on the floor, a sink full of dirty dishes, old newspapers on the living room floor, empty pop cans on the tables, and dust on the countertops. And it would be terrible if there was nothing to offer them: no beverages, hors d’oeuvres, meal, or dessert. So we spring into action on a cleaning frenzy as a white tornado roars through the house, and we go on a shopping spree to be sure that the refrigerator and cupboard are fully supplied. Then, after our guests leave, the mess gradually reappears.
Jesus wants to come over as our guest, and Jesus wants to have dinner with us, but he refuses to be pinned down when it comes to a day and time. He is a free spirit. He comes and goes as he pleases. He is unpredictable. There are some things that we know for sure, others left uncertain, as Jesus promises, “You can be absolutely sure that I will be coming over to your place, but I just don’t know when yet.”
This leaves us in a quandary. If Jesus could come knocking anytime, it means I have to be ready all the time, which means that the house has to be clean all day, every day, and it rarely is. There is a pile of junk here, a mess there, and while I like the house clean, I’ve gotten used to some clutter, it doesn’t bother me all that much, and I don’t want to put that much effort into cleaning.
These are all spiritual figures of speech. The house represents each person. The door represents the entrance to a person’s mind and heart. The dirt and junk represents sin. A sparkling clean house represents being in the state of grace.
Jesus is a kind and compassionate house guest. It may seem impolite that he is unwilling to announce his arrival time, but it actually is a blessing. His delay gives us more time to go on a cleaning frenzy, to sweep out sinful behaviors, vacuum up bad habits, and dust off rough edges. It is time for the strongest and most concentrated cleanser, the Blood of Christ, which washes away our sins, and for the “white tornado,” the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which confers absolution and restores the sinner to the state of grace.
The delay also gives the homeowner ample time to stock the refrigerator and the cupboard, not with groceries, but with good deeds: love shared, sacrifices made, food and drink provided, clothes distributed, strangers welcomed, the troubled visited, assistance delivered, donations and alms given, and prayers offered.
Jesus wants us to come to a “new normal” with our homes. He would like them to be clean and well-stocked all the time, and he would like us to be so irritated with dirt when it appears that we remove it right away. Somebody’s knockin’ at your door! That somebody is Jesus! He wants to come into a clean house!