Litany of Loreto – Gate of Heaven
The history of the covenant between God and man begins in the very first book of the Bible. After the flood, Noah is the first to receive a guarantee that the Lord will not exterminate his creation forever. But this is only the beginning of what God has in mind. He constitutes a new covenant, where Abraham is chosen to be the father of “many nations”. God proves his intentions by giving Sarah a son, even though she is past child-bearing. This son, Isaac, becomes the father of Jacob. In his younger years, Jacob has a dream where he sees a ladder reaching from earth to the skies, and he hears God’s voice telling him:
“I, the Lord, am the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac. The ground on which you are lying I shall give to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be as plentiful as the dust on the ground; you will spread out to west and east, to north and south, and all clans on earth will bless themselves by you and your descendants” (Genesis 28:13-14).
The lives of the three patriarchs of Israel are all individual, unique stories, unique lives. But they unite in a common experience: God acts in their lives and assures them a future of prosperity. Even if they do not see the covenant fulfilled, their lives have, henceforth, an eschatological perspective. From the moment that Abram was called to leave a nomad people struggling to survive in rough conditions, this new people has become a people sustained by a vision. Their lives are defined by God’s promise, and they continue their lives with their inner eyes oriented towards a horizon designed by the Lord himself.
There is a huge distance from the fathers of the old covenant to where we are standing today. And whereas the fathers looked forward to a future of prosperity, we are looking backwards to the moment when the covenant of God was fulfilled. Our perspective is centred on the moment where God makes his giant leap towards humanity, by becoming the incarnate God. But he does so in such a human, natural way that man finds it hard to believe. The almighty chooses a young woman to become the gate of heaven, and a baby is born under poor conditions. “For the needy is not forgotten forever, not for ever does the hope of the poor come to nothing” (Psalm 10(9):18). No, the needy are not forgotten, the Lord remembers mankind by becoming a poor human being, and thereby proving his everlasting love for the lowly and humble of heart.
We look to Mary, and we realise how she has become the chosen one to unite heaven and earth. From this moment, the body of Christ grows and fills the earth as the Church spread out to west and east, to north and south. Therefore, as we meditate on the gift that God gives to, and through, Mary, we realise that we have become this gate ourselves. We are the ones who bring the good news to the world. We are the ones who continue the incarnation by the Holy Spirit. Pope Leo the Great says in his famous homily: “Christian, know your dignity!” (Sermon used in the office for Christmas day in the Church.) We are nothing less than the Gate of Heaven. Our horizon is the Son of God, our model is Mary showing us the openness to God’s will in her life, just as the Church always searches to fulfill the mission that Christ has given her. Our lives are defined by a Christological vision, and our vision is nourished by the Holy Spirit, as we look forward to the moment when God the Father opens the doors for the last time, saying: “Come! Everything is now ready” (Luke 14:17).