A very brief letter to the Laodiceans, and it calls them on the carpet in a very blunt way:
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea, write this:
‘The Amen, the faithful and true witness,
the source of God’s creation, says this:
“I know your works;
I know that you are neither cold nor hot.
I wish you were either cold or hot.
So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold,
I will spit you out of my mouth.
For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’
and yet do not realize that you are wretched,
pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich,
and white garments to put on
so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed,
and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see.
Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise.
Be earnest, therefore, and repent.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
then I will enter his house and dine with him,
and he with me.
I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne,
as I myself first won the victory
and sit with my Father on his throne.
“'”Whoever has ears ought to hear
what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”
This is the last of the seven letters to churches of Revelation 2 and 3. When does a penitent or a community deserve such a public lambasting? What do we hear when we witness a community being called out like this? Certainly no believer or community is perfect. We all have sins, some noticeable, some hidden.
This seems to be another good selection for Lent, a time in which our grave sinfulness may get hidden amidst the general approach to universal penitence. Are we ready for a searching and fearless look within? The good news is that the True and Faithful Witness is prepared to embrace the one who responds to this call to repentance. We Catholics know this is true. But sometimes we can not quite believe it because perhaps we are all too aware of our pitiable state.
That last verse is intended for all seven churches: whoever has ears to hear …