Where are the Gates of Hell?

In Matthew Chapter 16 verse 19, Jesus said “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”.  It seems like there are some people who seem to either doubt Jesus’ words here or don’t get that in the same breath that he said “you are Peter (the first Pope) and upon THIS rock, I will build my Church (which is the Catholic Church), He also said “and the gates of hell will NOT prevail against it.” {Emphasis mine} I don’t really understand what the freak-out is really about. That may be because of own personal conversion and what God has done for me in the last decade of my life. The further that I go into my relationship with Jesus the more I see exactly how far back He began to talk to me and woo me to come back home to Him. I freak-out about a lot of things in life, like the bills, money, my children making it to heaven, fear of overpasses that came on suddenly and out of nowhere, and just the day to day things that make life seem difficult to live day by day, but the one thing that I have never ever freaked out about is the Church being destroyed by a discussion about sinners and how to minister to them. If the Church could be destroyed by that, then I wouldn’t be Catholic. I came to the conclusion that the Church can’t be destroyed as a part of my conversion process. As someone who has been let down by every single person put in charge of caring for me in huge ways, there was no way that I would trust a Church that was not guided by the Holy Spirit. God proved to me that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and I could trust her as my mother. He proved  to me that He was worthy of my trust. Yes, you read that right, God who created everything proved to me that I could trust Him. He took the time to earn my trust. Time after time God lowers Himself for our sake. I have experienced it in my own life in real ways which makes the freak-out happening around me at the moment really annoying. And honestly, I think somethings as we know it should be destroyed, like the snub way of thinking that somehow my sins aren’t as bad as that gay person’s sins. I say destroy that shit for real! In fact, every time I catch myself with the attitude of superiority (which is often) I beg God to rip it out of my soul and destroy it. It’s never pretty, but He is happy to answer that prayer.

As I was reading articles and comments about how everything is being destroyed in front of our eyes, I thought of those words of Christ and remembered something that I heard at a talk once about where the Gates of Hell are. Back in Roman times and even before that, I’m guessing, cities had gates around them for protection. When there was war, they would seal up the gates and the city would prepare to defend those gates against invaders. I’m not really sure of the details but basically, the city defending its gates was the one being attacked and if their gates prevailed then they succeeded in defending itself. If the gates didn’t prevail then it was invaded and taken over. For Jesus to say that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church built on the Rock of Peter would mean that the Church would be the one to attack hell and break through the gates (with our Pope leading the way, in my humble opinion). In other words, it’s not hell attacking us and taking us over but it is us, the Church, who will invade hell’s gates. I was thinking about this this morning and realized that Jesus did just that in my life. I was living in a hell of my making because of the pain from my wounds and He broke through those gates to get me. It’s how He rolls. Every single conversion story has that theme, the theme of the Hound of Heaven seeking, finding and saving. He stops at nothing.

It seems to me that in that last few decades the Church has flipped it around and decided that it is a city on the defense who is manning its gates against the attacks of the devil and his entourage and that we have to guard those gates. We have to be bouncers at the gates to make sure that only the righteous are allowed to come in and it has made us fearful of everything. That was never Christ’s plan of where the Church is to be. His plan was always for us to be the ones taking people from the clutches of the devil and bringing them to His Feet. He didn’t give us a spirit of fear but one of courage because He knew we would need courage to fight the evil one.

Think about the movie Taken and how the father goes above and beyond to find his daughter and save her from evil. He doesn’t stop at anything and he could careless about the danger, because he is determined to save her. That is how Jesus is with us and that is how He expects us to be with others.  Jesus gives us weapons do carry out this mission by giving us weapons such as  prayer, fasting, love, faith, hope, works of mercy and our greatest weapon is our testimony of God has done for us.

In the fall of 2007, one year before I began RCIA, I was at a Christmas party sitting on the lap of a guy in a Santa costume inside a swingers club with porn playing on big screens all around us as I opened my white elephant gift that was a vibrator. As he said “Merry Christmas” to me, this picture of the Baby Jesus in a manger flashed before my eyes and for a split second, I was ashamed.  It wasn’t a horrible feeling, it was almost comforting, like a father calling my name. It was familiar and something that I had longed for my entire fatherless life. That memory came flooding back to me in a conversation with a friend about sinners and how Jesus brings us home. He did it for me. He walked right in that club and brought me Home kicking and screaming and demanding answers. He put me on His shoulders and He fed me, clothed me, loved me, answered those questions and earned my trust. Because of that, I have nothing to freak out about. The Church will stand and we will bust through the gates of hell and preach the Good News. If you are Catholic, it’s time to arm yourself.

Epeshians 6:10-17
10 Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power.

11 Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.

12 For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.

13 Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.

14 So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate,

15 and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace.

16 In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one.

17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


6 thoughts on “Where are the Gates of Hell?

  1. Well, yeah, and sometimes even one hour or minute at a time! And I’m sure there are people who say, “Oh, yeah, she’s trying. She’s a *very* trying person.” 😉


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