Lenten Art Reflection: “I am the door” (Week 1)

Today with the whole Church we start this journey of Lent. This holy time of the year asks of us, to be more committed to this journey of faith, especially as we grow closer to the experience of Christ’s death and Resurrection. For this reason, we would like to share with you a short reflection each week, on the great seven “I am” of Jesus found in the Gospel of John. These seven affirmations, as we shall discover are expressions that can help us to grow deeper into the experience of faith.

L’Âge d’Or (Golden Age), Painted Bronze door
Regent Park, London (2020)
Sculpture of Gavin Turk (1967 – )

 I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.  He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.  I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,  as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.  And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.

(John 10: 9-16 RSV)

REFLECTION: The image we would like you to reflect on today, is somewhat strange, perhaps you might also ask yourself, “can this possibly be a work of art?” This door is one from a series, that contemporary artist Gavin Truk, created in bronze, and exhibited in various places around the world. What’s interesting is that this door has no context, meaning that it’s taken from its scope or need of a door in a wall that closes a room or place.
In the Gospel of St. John, in one of the seven “I am” of Jesus, He says He’s the door. We know about it…we’ve heard it before, but if you think about it a bit, you’ll realize that even this is a bit strange. What does Jesus is a ‘door’ mean? The context is Jesus, who presents himself as a Shepherd. ( See John 10: 1-13). A shepherd’s job is to care for and look after his sheep day and night. During the day by making sure that they’re one flock and by taking them to pastures where they may roam around; at night time, the shepherd needs to protect them from what wishes to harm them.

In the open countryside, where there were no rooms, there used to be wall parameters (similar to the rubble walls we find in the Maltese countryside) and, at night time, after making sure the sheep were in, the shepherd used to close this place by acting himself, as a door, which separated the inside from the outside. As the Gospel says, if someone wants to enter to snatch them away, he must pass over the shepherd; the shepherd who became the door.

Now that we understood a bit the context of Jesus as the door, let us turn back to the image portrayed. The artist wanted to present this door as a metaphor of life; that you need to enter through this huge door (a little over 3.5m high) which is just about ajar, to be able to start a new life. The irony is that you can go around it and keep going with your life without ever experiencing it. I believe Jesus is telling you, reading this, the same. Often, in a physical way, and more so metaphorically, you go through many doors unconsciously, but Jesus is calling you so that if you wish to live with his flock, you must go through him or over him. (Note how Jesus says he is the door; not one of the doors.)

This door He’s inviting you to go through has two uses. It closes or rather protects you from the outside elements, and opens or rather exposes you to a more beautiful life than the one you’re already living.
Today, as we’re just starting this beautiful time of Lent, the Lord is inviting you to take a step inside the inner room of your heart, where He invites you to meet Him in the quiet and silence, whilst also wishing for you to meet Him in those in need. Inside or outside, the Lord wishes to watch over you and to bless you. (See Psalm 121:8)