Painted by Arthur Hopkins (1848-1930),
Watercolour on paper,
Painted circa 1875
Knock, and the door will be opened to you
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, “My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you.” I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.
‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
Reflection on the watercolour
Arthur Hopkins was a London-born landscape and genre painter who entered the Royal Academy School in 1872 and exhibited at the leading London galleries. In our late Romantic watercolour on paper we sense the artist's interest in conveying a sweet, innocent image of a young girl knocking on a blue door. She is standing on the tips of her toes and still can’t quite reach the knocker. She comes, bearing a basket, probably holding gifts. As the keyhole is at her eye level, perhaps she might have glanced through the keyhole to see if anyone was in? Anyway, Jesus tells us today, ‘Knock, and the door will be opened to you’. So whether we can reach that knocker or not, we can always knock on the door itself and it will be opened.
The initiative for knocking on the door needs to come from us. We know the door is there, we know there is a whole new world behind that door, but it will not open unless we knock. Asking, searching, knocking, deciding, are all actions of someone who is dependent on God and seeks closeness to him in prayer.
In today’s Gospel Jesus uses the words 'ask', 'search' and 'knock'. He is appealing to three senses. ‘Asking’ is verbal: we are meant to talk to God and pray to him. ‘Searching’: here we are invited to use our minds where we decide on our priorities and focus our hearts. To ‘knock’ involves physical movement: we are required to take action and do things for Christ also with our hands. The asking and seeking are crucial, but they would be incomplete without the knocking… just as the little girl is doing…
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