I Hear You Knocking But You Can't Come In

02-10-2019From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

“I hear you knocking, but you can’t come in.” These words are from a 1970 song by Dave Edmunds and in many ways these words describe the feelings we have when we are challenged to allow others into our lives or to do something that is different, difficult, or controversial. These past weeks I have been writing about the evil of abortion and the challenges we face as people of faith with this issue. What has brought abortion to the forefront was the passage in our New York State legislature of the Reproductive Act a few weeks ago that allows abortion up until the very day of birth. In a sense, children in the womb get ready for birth by knocking on the door of their mother’s womb to come to birth, that is, to come physically into our world, and most importantly, into our lives. How did we become so barbaric, insensitive, and evil? What continues to push us over the edge of love, decency, truth, and common sense in this area? There is someone else knocking to come in and the door has been opened wide to him - the devil!!!

A few years ago a woman named Abby Johnson was working at a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Texas. She was so good in her concern for woman coming to her clinic that she was named employee of the year. Soon after that, she witnessed an ultra sound guided abortion where the baby is vacuumed out of the mother’s womb. She saw the baby squirm and seek to escaped. That image opened the door of her mind and heart to see what an abortion actually is - the brutal killing of an innocent child in the womb. The freedom to choose such an act should be beyond belief, but sadly is an all too frequent reality. Babies aborted are also dismembered, especially as they get into the third trimester when they are aborted. The physical pain has to be unbelievable. I do not like speaking or writing about this, but unless and until we realize exactly what happens when an abortion occurs we delude ourselves into thinking it is a right and a free choice for a woman. And every woman, as every man, has been given life by their mothers.

In the responsorial Psalm last Tuesday at Mass the response was: “The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.” Are we to fear God? If that is our attitude then when we hear Him knocking at the door of our heart, we are hesitant, fearful, or reluctant to open that door. Fear of the Lord is not cowering in a corner at the thought of eternal punishment, but wonder and awe at His great love for us. How can God love us so much? Why is He so loving and forgiving? Did Jesus really die on the cross for me? When we experience the love of others we are awed. But how many times does that feeling of unworthiness overtake us? Love is not earned or deserved, but a freely given gift. That is what makes the birth of a child such a beautiful reality. A new person comes into the world and needs love. The reservoir of love in our hearts never runs dry. We are the ones who open or close the door that lets it flow out. There is no doubt about God’s love for us. We know that, but do we really believe it and take it to heart?

A few weeks ago I ended my column with Psalm 51 and invited everyone to pray it. These words speak to my heart so clearly:

“My offenses truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done.”

How we agonize and regret at times things we have said or done. Our sinful words and actions have a constant, clear effect: they seek to separate us from others, God, and even ourselves. But Jesus came and as St. Paul says, “While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6) What does He expect in return? Not a hopeless, head down attitude of fear, but thanksgiving filled with wonder and awe. What we need in our daily lives and in our nation today as we confront evil, especially the evil of abortion, is what we pray for later in Psalm 51:

“Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, that the bones you have crushed may revive. From my sins turn away your face and blot out all my guilt. A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit. Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me, that I may teach transgressors your ways and sinners may return to you. O rescue me, God, my helper, and my tongue shall ring out your goodness. O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise.”

Take some time and quietly, slowly, and reflectively read these words of this hopeful, inspiring Psalm again and again. May we have a pure heart and a steadfast Spirit every day of our lives. That is the basis of fear of the Lord. It does not fill us with anxiety but wonder, joy, and humble gratitude.

This Lent we will once again have a parish project. We are invited to join with parishes in our area and take a day each week during Lent to pray and fast for life. We are invited to fast from food, TV, computers, cell phones, or whatever else can preoccupy us for a day and spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament as well as pray the rosary with others in front of the Planned Parenthood facility on Maple Avenue here in Smithtown. More information will be forthcoming. Instead of saying to God, “I hear you knocking, but you can’t come in,” may our prayer be one of welcome, “I hear you knocking, fill my heart and mind with your loving presence and guiding Spirit.”