When I was a little girl I was always pretty confused when the priest would lock the ciborium in the tabernacle after communion. It seemed to me like Jesus was being locked in His kennel. It was a pretty kennel, but I didn’t grasp why Jesus had to be locked away. I couldn’t quite believe Jesus would run away the way my dog had run away. But having had the experience of losing my dog that way, it was nice to know that Jesus couldn’t go the route of my first dog.
Then I grew up, but to my horror, I realized that symbol of locking Jesus away in a tabernacle was still really important for some people, and for very specific theological reasons. On the practical level this locking up the ciborium would seem to be about theft, but I began to realize it was also about theft on the theological level. Leave the metaphorical theological tabernacle open, and horror of horrors, anyone could come in and take Jesus. Which is after all, what He Himself said. Take this all of you…..
The locked Tabernacle for me became a very potent symbol about access to the Catholic Jesus. There would be a lot of hoops to jump through before that door would be unlocked and there would be insurmountable intrinsic barriers which meant I would never be allowed access to the keys. It didn’t matter how much I loved Jesus or how I advanced spiritually, the closed tabernacle was a fact of Catholic life I would have to accept.
And then I grew up some more and realized the locked tabernacle has nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with the clerical key keepers. Once I realized that, I knew if there was a tabernacle, it was always open and always meant to be that way. The only keys were faith and love, and those can’t be put in a pocket. Those have to be lived.
When people live faith and love that’s when Jesus is truly available, and in that living out of faith and love, as He taught us by His own example, He is available to everyone. No locks nor gold box can hold that Jesus—no matter what sayeth the Keeper of the Keys.
The Open Tabernacle is about the free and loving Jesus. It is authored by people who in too many cases have been denied access to the locked Tabernacle Jesus by the keepers of the keys. The keepers tell us they lock Jesus from us because they love us. I suspect the truth may be that they are afraid of us and our free and loving Jesus.
They don’t need to be afraid because Jesus lives to bring peace and love and joy and hope. To think one can lock this Jesus up and keep His life from ‘others’ is in essence not a statement of love, but of fear and the need to control. It’s about a need to create a ‘manageable’ diety. It’s about a deity that supports one’s prejudices rather than overcomes one’s prejudices.
In my mind this blog will attempt to underscore one very important point and will do so from a variety of personal experiences, theologies, cultures, and spiritual perspectives. That point is this: The very first tabernacle mankind tried to lock the life of Jesus in was a sepulchre in Jerusalem. We know how ineffective that was because Catholicism is founded on that failure.
The Resurrected Jesus transcends our notions of tabernacle and is freely available to those who seek Him. Any theological or faith system which says otherwise is in denial. They are trying to roll back the stone and close the sepulchre. It’s too late for that. The Tabernacle is well and truly open.