The Good Thief

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”  (Luke 12: 39-40)

Jesus compares His Second Coming to a thief coming at night.  As the Gospel was being proclaimed at Mass, I was struck by the phrase “he would not have let his house be broken into.”  Of the many ways Jesus could describe His Second Coming, He chooses at this time to say that He is like a thief who breaks into a home.  Obviously, the master of the house would want to protect himself against any thief forcing entrance into the house.  The immediate connotation is a negative one: be prepared so Jesus doesn’t break in.  What is the other option?

In John’s Gospel, Jesus is the Good Shepherd and also He is the door.  Entrance through His door means salvation.  But He mentions a thief and says that a thief doesn’t enter through the door but comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.  So is Jesus like a thief or is He a door?

What about if He is actually both?  Jesus stands at our hearts, knocking, gently persistent, asking for entrance into the deepest recesses of our being.  We choose if we open the door to Him or not.  He waits, patiently.  Yet there will come a day when waiting is no longer an option, when our refusal to acknowledge Him will come face-to-face with the reality of Who He is.

Will you open the door for Him?  If not, He will not be kept out and He will find a way in, like a thief, stealing through the chinks in our armor, stealthily slipping into the cracks in our fortress.  Yet if Jesus came to give us life, how could He also come to “steal, kill, and destroy” like a thief?  To us in the midst of our sinfulness, the act of taking away our addictions, habits, and struggles will seem like thievery.  It may seem like it is killing and destroying us to be stripped of that which we have made to be our personal god.  An experience of authentic self-denial can help us see the death that must occur when we have not opened wide our hearts to Christ.

He will break into our house.

That experience of a break-in will be unique, but He daily breaks into our world.  He isn’t hiding, but He isn’t forcing us to acknowledge Him today.  He is breaking into my world through the sky filling with a sunrise palette.  He is breaking into my world through the student who insists on keeping a ten-minute running commentary during a surprise fire drill.  He is breaking into my world by placing me in difficult situations I never thought I would have to encounter.

I can recognize His breaking in, or I can pretend like it never happened.  He can be a door or a thief.  Either way, He will enter into my life, it is simply a matter of method and perspective.

And so we strive to let the Good Thief in through the Door.

The One who persistently calls your name, knocks on the door of your heart, and ushers you into an abundant life.

He will come again whether it be His Second Coming on earth or at our death.  We will encounter Him in His glory and realize, with total certainty, who He is.

Do you want the Thief or the Door?

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