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Home » Daily Readings, New Testament Writers

You are Alive, but Dead; Rich, but Poor

Submitted by on Tuesday, 16 November 2010No Comment
  • Reading I:  Revelation 3:1-6,14-22
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 15:2-3a, 3bc-4ab, 5 (Revelation 3:21)
  • Gospel Reading: Luke 19:1-10

Our lectio cursiva of the Revelation to John brings us to the Letters to Sardis and Laodicea. The liturgical selection skips the letter to Philadelphia. Below are links to information about Sardis and Laodicea.

The liturgy presents to us the Lord’s evaluation of the Churches of Sardis and Laodicea because of the similarity of their condition: they are thought to be something but in the Lord’s eyes they are the opposite of what they are reputed to be. Thus, Sardis is thought to be alive, but is actually dead, Laodicea thinks itself rich, but is actually poor.

Points for Actualization

Both Sardis and Laodicea maintain appearances, but both fail in the eyes of the Lord. Sardis is thought to be a church that was alive, but its works are not complete in God’s eyes. What does it mean when one’s work is incomplete, i.e. not fully done? Is it perhaps a worship that is shown externally but does not come from reverent hearts? Perhaps it is a work done half-heartedly, without passion and commitment? Or perhaps it is both?

The Lord presents himself to this Church as the one who holds the seven spirits of God. This is the one Spirit which makes itself known by its seven-fold gifts. This self-introduction may be due to the fact that the church of Sardis is dead because it is no longer a Spirit-filled Church. It may look "alive" because of its activities, but is actually dead "inside".

At the end of every semester, my students submit to me a lot of papers. Those who see me bringing those papers home may think that I have a lively class with students who are interested in my lessons. Little do they know that a lot of those papers are most often copies of things found on the internet, papers submitted just for the sake of meeting requirements and not really the work of interested students.

Is your Church like this — all activities, but dead inside?

Laodicea is compared to its waters: lukewarm, and therefore not pleasant to drink. The Lord tells them to buy from him gold that is purified, clothes and ointment for the eyes. The Laodicean church was as wealthy as its environs, but its wealth was material, not spiritual. The Lord presents himself to them as the "Amen", the "faithful and true witness" and the creative Word (of God). Perhaps it is because they are no longer sincere to their baptismal vows?

Laodicea was successful in its business relationships, but the church of Laodicea no longer maintains a relationship with its Lord. It is for this reason that the command to them is "to buy from" the Lord, to sustain a relationship with Him. It is also for this reason that towards the end of the message, the image of the Lord’s banquet is placed before them. Perhaps the church still celebrates the Lord’s banquet, but it is a celebration that is empty because the members have not been cultivating friendship with the Lord? One can only cultivate friendship with the Lord and have the joy of participating in His banquet if one has faith and one is true to one’s baptism. That is why the Lord tells them to buy from him "white garments" evoking the baptismal robe, and ointment for the eyes, that is faith that one may see.

Reviewing what you have learned about the way the Lord regards wealth and how is it to be used, how do you think should a wealthy Christian community use its resources as a manifestation of its friendship with the Lord?

Link to "the Letters to the Churches of Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea"

Revelation 3:1-6,14-22
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
1And to the angel of the church of Sardis, write: These things saith he, that hath the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars: I know thy works, that thou hast the name of being alive: and thou art dead.
2Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain, which are ready to die. For I find not thy works full before my God.
3Have in mind therefore in what manner thou hast received and heard: and observe, and do penance. If then thou shalt not watch, I will come to thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know at what hour I will come to thee.
4But thou hast a few names in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments: and they shall walk with me in white, because they are worthy.
5He that shall overcome, shall thus be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
6He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
14And to the angel of the church of Laodicea, write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, who is the beginning of the creation of God:
15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot.
16But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.
17Because thou sayest: I am rich, and made wealthy, and have need of nothing: and knowest not, that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
18I counsel thee to buy of me gold fire tried, that thou mayest be made rich; and mayest be clothed in white garments, and that the shame of thy nakedness may not appear; and anoint thy eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19Such as I love, I rebuke and chastise. Be zealous therefore, and do penance.
20Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21To him that shall overcome, I will give to sit with me in my throne: as I also have overcome, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.
Psalm 15:2-3
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
2He that walketh without blemish, and worketh justice:
3He that speaketh truth in his heart, who hath not used deceit in his tongue: Nor hath done evil to his neighbour: nor taken up a reproach against his neighbours.
Revelation 3:21
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
21To him that shall overcome, I will give to sit with me in my throne: as I also have overcome, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Luke 19:1-10
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
1And entering in, he walked through Jericho.
2And behold, there was a man named Zacheus, who was the chief of the publicans, and he was rich.
3And he sought to see Jesus who he was, and he could not for the crowd, because he was low of stature.
4And running before, he climbed up into a sycamore tree, that he might see him; for he was to pass that way.
5And when Jesus was come to the place, looking up, he saw him, and said to him: Zacheus, make haste and come down; for this day I must abide in thy house.
6And he made haste and came down; and received him with joy.
7And when all saw it, they murmured, saying, that he was gone to be a guest with a man that was a sinner.
8But Zacheus standing, said to the Lord: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wronged any man of any thing, I restore him fourfold.
9Jesus said to him: This day is salvation come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham.
10For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

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