By Stephen Crippen
Late last fall, Fr. Mike Raschko told our Christian Anthropology class what he planned to preach about on Christ the King Sunday. The Gospel was from Matthew, the day of judgment when sheep will be separated from goats, the righteous from the unrighteous.
Fr. Raschko’s vision of judgment day is a lot different than the one in Matthew, the one illuminated by Michelangelo’s terrifying Sistine Chapel frescoes. It goes something like this: when we die, we will find ourselves in a comfortable room, and God will be there. God will offer us a glass of warm brandy and invite us to sit down. And then God will show us two doors, one of which we must walk through. One door leads to separation from God; the other leads to a closer relationship with God. (Hell and heaven, then.)
But by the time we arrive in that room, we already will know which door we’ve chosen, time and again, throughout our lives. We will have walked through one of the doors many hundreds of times, so when the moment of truth comes, it will actually be a little anti-climactic.
I like this image, and appreciate the theology behind it. I think it was C.S. Lewis who wrote, “The doors to hell are locked from the inside.” I know that in my own life, hell is a chosen state of existence, chosen by me. And being in heaven is as simple (and difficult) as saying Yes to God.
And Lent is a time to be in that room, to be more conscious about the choices we make. The precise meaning of ‘repentance’ is to turn, or turn around, and in Lent (or at least in my Lent) it’s all about turning. I see the door I’m choosing in my life, and, in response to God’s invitation, turn and look at the other door. Will I walk through that door instead?
Stephen is a therapist and postulant to the Diaconate. You can find his personal blog here.