So here we are in January, the month named after the Roman god Janus, who, having two heads, was able to see in two directions at the same time . As the janitor of the heavens, he decided who could enter and who could leave. He presided over transitions, from the old to the new, from war to peace. He guided travellers with the staff he carried in his right hand and opened doors and gates with the key in his left.
The origin of his name and of the month is the Latin word ‘ianua’ meaning ‘door’ or ‘gate’ – Latin has no letter ‘j’. It is also the origin of the word ‘janitor’, the doorkeeper. So a janitor is someone who enables people to come in and go out, to enter and leave, to pass through.
In his famous picture, The Light of the World’, Holman Hunt depicts Jesus, lantern in hand, knocking at a door which is much overgrown with weeds. Notably the door has no latch on the outside. The door can only be opened from the inside. That is the challenge of the painting. We are all janitors of our own hearts and minds, gatekeepers of what comes in and goes out.
Jesus too can be the gatekeeper, a janitor who both invites us to enter and lets us in. When Jesus is the gatekeeper we only have to knock and the door will be opened, to seek and we will find. No key or staff is needed.