DAY 2: “GATE OF HEAVEN” (IANUA CAELI)
It is quite interesting to open up the second phase of our reflections on the Marian titles in the litany (today, being the second day of our devotion) with an amazing title: “Gate of Heaven” (Latin, Ianua Caeli), a reflection of our future hope to reach Christ our Lord, through the Blessed Virgin Mary our channel – the gate of heaven. Recall that, Jesus already says: “I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: such a one will go in and out and will find pasture”(Jn 10:9). Therefore, why do we invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary as the heaven’s Gate since Jesus already says that He’s the Gate, and in what context must it be understood?
First, a gate is an entrance through which we have access to another space. Through Mary, the Saviour entered the history of mankind. In other words, through her, our Lord Jesus Christ came to make heaven accessible to us by his redemptive death and resurrection. Thus, if she hadn’t been born, heaven would not have been opened for us. This is true because when the “gate of heaven” was shut by the sin of Adam, an initiative of a woman (Eve) tempted by the devil, God proclaimed the advent of another woman (the New Eve), through whose initiative (response to the will of God), the “gate of heaven” would be opened by the righteousness and salvific work of the Second Adam (Our Lord Jesus Christ).
If we contemplate the Blessed Virgin Mary as the gate/door to salvation; how then could we understand Christ’s own words: “I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: such a one will go in and out and will find pasture.”(Jn 10:9)? Here, Jesus’ words are clearly understood in the context at which salvation could be obtained through him. However, if we want to access this Jesus, then, we have to go through Mary. Just as we go to the tree to obtain its fruits, so also, we go to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the “tree,” in order to access the “Blessed Fruit of her womb.” Therefore, united with Jesus and Mary, we live this mystery of hope.
In consonance, a good understanding of the second part of the “Hail Mary” prayer we make is pertinent in clarifying this beautiful Marian title. In that prayer, we say: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.” Here, Mary is contemplated as one who comes to the aid of man at the hour of death with her prayers in order that the gates of heaven might be opened for them; the same way she stood at the foot of the cross, praying at the hour of Jesus’ death in order that the “gate of heaven” might be opened for humanity.
Undoubtedly, devotion to Mary is a gateway to enter the Heart of Jesus. Mary is like a road sign indicating the direction, she is not the point of arrival, she is not heaven, hence, she is the gate. It is interesting to note that in the temple of Jerusalem there was a tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant was kept, within which was the tablets of the law given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. In that tabernacle was a big door. Thus, if Mary is the New Testament tabernacle where Jesus (the New Covenant) dwelled, therefore, she must be the gate through which He came forth and through which he could be accessed. Little wonder, the prophet Ezekiel speaks of the East gate through which the Lord could pass through (cf. Ezek. 44:2-3). It follows, then, that invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary as the “Gate of Heaven” is to affirm that through her we are led to intimacy with our Lord Jesus Christ, and thus access salvation.
Dear friends in Christ, we too must be “gates of heaven” for our fellowmen. We must not keep our gates closed to anyone. The Christian must have the gate/door of his/her heart always open to welcome and accommodate others, aiding and supporting them in their needs (both spiritual and temporal) capable of helping them access salvation. We should bear in mind that whoever welcomes and helps the poor, consoles the afflicted and supports those in the street of bitterness, becomes a door/gate of accessing God. Above all, whoever opens his “gate” to others on earth will have the heavenly gate opened to him. May our devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary enable us to always have an open and welcoming heart capable of leading others to the heavenly home. Amen
Let us pray
Lord our God, your beloved Son passed through the “gate” of the Blessed Virgin Mary into humanity. Grant, we pray, that invoking her as the “Gate of heaven” by a true and filial devotion to her, we may come to imitate her virtues by opening the doors of our hearts to our fellowmen, and above all obtain access to our heavenly homeland and reign with you forever. Amen.
Oh “Gate of heaven” (Ianua Caeli), pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?