Richard S. Vosko

Musings on religion, art and architecture

Homily – 24 July 2016 – I Pledge to Open Closed Doors


17th Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 24, 2016 — I Pledge to Open Closed Doors

Click here for today’s scriptures

On December 8, 2015, Pope Francis pushed open the enormous bronze doors of St. Peter’s Basilica to launch a Jubilee Year of Mercy. Walking through a Holy Door is symbolic of taking an “extraordinary step” toward salvation.

Today’s readings offer you and me promises and expectations. We count on both to open doors where walls still exist for many people. God promises presence, that is, to hear our needs: ask and you will receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the doors will open for you. We, in turn, commit ourselves to look out for one another, to provide food, and to forgive as we are forgiven. In this way we can deliver the world from evil.

Biblical scholar Meda Stamper writes the [Lord’s] prayer serves as an affirmation of the worldview Jesus teaches … and, it suggests, how the good news might be made manifest in us, through us. [1]

Brendan Byrne adds, the community that saysthe Lord’s prayer sees itself as a “beachhead of the kingdom in the present world, reclaiming it [the kingdom] for life and humanity.” [2] A beachhead is a foothold — a first achievement that opens the way for further developments.

This week we commemorate the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, 1990). Think of the hospitality and dignity expressed when people with wheelchairs and walkers find electronic doors or accessible ramps to welcome them. Imagine people who are deaf who can count on assistive listening devices wherever they go. See visually impaired people navigate sidewalks, corridors and entryways identified with Braille and other raised markings.

Acknowledging and responding to people’s needs can change laws, regulations, even doctrines that no longer make sense or serve the common good. For Pope Francis mercy is known through concrete actions that notice the needs of others; they trump moralizing and casting judgment against others. 

One of the prickly questions for our nation, especially during this draining presidential campaign, is how will either party platform open doors for immigrants, refugees, unemployed parents, veterans, hungry and homeless children.

One of the nagging questions for religious people, especially during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, is how will our church open doors for women, divorced and remarried persons (without an annulment) and the LGBTQ community.

David Brooks was describing what we might call “a kingdom on earth as it is in heaven” when he wrote: “We need to be more communal in an age that’s overly individualistic … to be more morally minded in an age that’s overly utilitarian … to be more spiritually literate in an age that’s overly materialistic … to be more emotionally intelligent in an age that is overly cognitive. [3]

That is good advice for both church and state. While the summer months provide a chance to change our pace, to break from routine we acknowledge there is no vacation for God or for us, partners in the process of salvation. The kingdom is not something that might be waiting for us at the end of our lives. Rather it is something we are called to seek and share everyday. 

To that end we remember the pledges I proposed these past four weeks — to speak the word of God fearlessly, to love enemies as well as friends, and above all, to be kind as we open every door that has been slammed shut.


  1.  Meda Stamper in
  2.  Byrne, Brendan. The Hospitality of God: A Reading of Luke’s Gospel (Collegeville: Liturgical Press) 2000) 104-105
  3.  Brooks, David “Let’s Have a Better Culture War” in The New York Times. June 7, 2016

Author: Richard S. Vosko

Richard S. Vosko, Ph.D., Hon. AIA, is an internationally known sacred space planner. He is a presbyter in the Diocese of Albany who enjoys the classroom as much as the pulpit. On Sundays he presides at worship at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Albany, NY. For more information on Vosko’s background, his projects, publications and speaking engagements please go to his website. For his homilies and occasional musings about religion, art and architecture go to his blog. Comments, questions and suggestions are always welcomed there.

5 thoughts on “Homily – 24 July 2016 – I Pledge to Open Closed Doors

  1. This is so beautiful in it’s message. It is about community. It is about the eternal truth that God takes care of God’s people (aka every living person) through inspiring people of good will to care of one another. Have a wonderful vacation.


  2. I recently read an article that discussed a study that shows that people do indeed forget things as they go through a doorway. I was thinking of that as a negative until I heard your homily this morning. Sometimes walking through a doorway means we can start anew.


  3. So appreciate your pledge idea and homilies. Great idea, I think. And this one – opening doors and connecting it to the passage through the doors to the year of mercy. Love it. See you in a few weeks!



  4. There is so much in today’s readings that speak of prayer and action. Your zeroing in on the door image was inspirational and challenging. Appreciated the explanation of the Jubilee door.
    Have a great vacation.


  5. Wonderful challenge to all of us!Mel

     Carmel Ann Sperti, D.Min. Oneonta, NY

    “The way to love anything is to realize it might be lost. ”           – G. K. Chesterton

    “Two roads diverged in a wood and I — I took the one less traveled by — and that has made all the difference.”~ Robert Frost “Be not lax in celebrating! Be not lazy in the festive service of God; be ablaze with enthusiasm. Let us be an active, burning offering before the altar of God.” -Hildegard of Bingen


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