Archive for October 14th, 2019

Revelation 3:14-22: Laodicea

Monday, October 14, 2019

Laodicea excavations near Caracalla-nymphaeum

In this unveiling of God’s perspective of the world in which we as Christians are given ample ground on which to stand as we become uncompromising witnesses to the Gospel story, we hear God speaking about the Church in Laodicea.  He reserves his harshest words for this group who are neither hot nor cold.  The town was a wealthy industrial and commercial center renowned for its medical school.  Merchants exported woolen garments and was further known for the eye salve with which many diseases of the eye were cured.  They are economically prosperous but spiritually bankrupt.  (c.f. NA CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE, p. 404)

For you say, “I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything”, and yet you 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.

We easily see the irony that although these people were well-known for the fabric and medicines they produced, they failed to realize that they themselves must work at putting on the white wedding garment one needs to attend the wedding feast of the Lamb of God.  They did not cure their own blindness.  The angel who delivers this message of warning also delivers words of hope.  If these people will allow themselves to be refined by the fires of life – as gold is refines by the goldsmith – and if they will renew their covenant promises with God to take up the white cloth they receive at baptism, and if they open their eyes to the suffering around them, they will be among those who are saved.

Further information from the notes tells us that this town was located across the river from the mouth of hot springs.  This, their drinking water was tepid and often brought on illness.  There was no fresh water in this town . . . just as there was no fervor to do the will of God.  What a coincidence that their physical location is linked so closely to their spiritual behavior.

These words to the people of the church of Laodicea are helpful for us who have very few needs and mostly wants.  Being lukewarm in our commitment to the Gospel story is not an option.  When we place a healing balm on our eyes we see what is truly before us: a world wishing to be free, yearning to be joyful, and aching to be loved.  As followers of Christ we are called to respond with vigor to the needs we see in our sisters and brothers . . . not to lapse into complacent silence or haughty judgment of others.  It is a difficult course.  There are many traffic snarls, many obstacles, many lures into soft living and easy gain.

Christ lived and worked and prayed with society’s outcast; and the price he paid for this was derision, persecution, and death on a cross.  Yet he did not slink away as he could have done.  He did not remain silent as he was advised.  He obeyed God’s will so that through his sacrifice many might be saved.

Can we walk away from such a love?  Can we – like the people of Laodicea – afford to linger in our comfort while others suffer?  The choice is ours to make.  But we must keep this in mind . . . being lukewarm in our relation to God and to others is not an option.  We must be as ardent in our intent to live the call of the Gospel story as we are in our intent to survive.  We must be willing to submit to the fire of the goldsmith’s crucible.  We must remake our wedding garment.  We must heal our eyes to gain a clearer view of the world.  And we must drink of the fresh waters of the Gospel.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.404. Print.   

A re-post from September 23, 2012.

For more information on the city of Laodicea, click on the image above or go to: http://www.bibleplaces.com/laodicea.htm

Written on September 28,2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

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