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Posts Tagged ‘Laodicea’


Luke 14:34-35: Salt

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

El Greco: St. Martin and the Beggar

The simile of salt follows the sayings of Jesus that demanded of the disciple total dedication and detachment from family and possessions and illustrates the condition of one who does not display total commitment.  The half-hearted disciple is like salt that cannot serve its intended purpose.  (NAB footnote, page 1119)

This reminds us of the letter to the people of Laodicea; being a lukewarm disciple is not an option.  We may be tempted to allow others to witness, but we cannot give in to this temptation.  Nor can we feign passion or pretend interest.  Our response to God’s call – in order that it be a true and authentic response – must be genuine and ardent.  Our lives must demonstrate that we understand this call, that we willingly and eagerly respond, and that we behave with integrity as we live our response.  We are salt which magnifies goodness.  We are salt that does not lose itself when added to the banquet meal.

November 11 is the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, a soldier born to non-Christian parents in 316.  He gave up his military life, converted to Christianity and became the ardent bishop of Tours.  He founded monasteries, educated clergy and preached to the poor.  He died in 397.  As we consider our own lives as salt that flavors and enhances a meal that will sustain us, we might pause to reflect on the life of one so eager to respond to an inner call.  Like salt, St. Martins’ example adds to life’s flavor . . . and calls forth the best in what life has to offer us.


First written on November 12, 2008. Re-written and posted today.

To better understand the mediocrity of Laodicea, enter either of these words into the blog search box and explore. 

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Martin_and_the_Beggar_(El_Greco)

To learn more about Martin of Tours and how his life was salt for humanity, go to: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09732b.htm

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Matthew 22:15-45: Mediocrity

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 26, 2019

There is no question that Jesus threatens the status quo of those who govern by deceit and lies; what may be less evident is that he brings even more pressure on those who wish to live in the middle world of mediocrity.  Jesus threatens those who live in the shadow of power and who believe themselves safe from condemnation because they do not engage in the actual act of murder.  They are happy to hold the coat of those who commit the act which they have quietly encouraged.  These calm collaborators enable evil to masquerade as truth.  They are people of the worst kind because they speak of justice but practice oppression through their “behind the scenes” influence.

When we look at these phrases from Matthew 22, we see what he is saying to us about the choices we make every day.  Are our actions and beliefs hidden or open?  Then the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap him in speech . . . They sent their disciples to him . . . Knowing their malice, Jesus said . . . When they heard this, they were amazed, and leaving him they went away . . . On that day the Sadducees approached him . . . When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching . . . When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together and one of them . . . tested him . . . No one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

While the great crowd watches, Jesus tells the story of Truth, and Life and Light.  He seals his fate by outing the mediocrity and collaboration of those who wish so desperately to lead that they sacrifice truth and salvation for the group in exchange for promotion of self, for comfort and earthly authority.  In his next chapter, Matthew will describe how the power structure denounces Jesus because he draws the people to himself not only with sensibility but with an authenticity in his words that heals as much as do his hands.

Where do we stand in this scene?  Where do we find ourselves when we hear something that means we must risk a bit, change our ways a bit, put ourselves in danger a bit?  In the final book of the Bible, Revelation, we see the fate of those who wish to take no side, to bring no notice to themselves, to live in quiet comfort while others suffer.  We do not wish to be like the people of Laodicea to whom the Lord says: 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. 

Jesus calls hypocrites from their quiet, snug lair.  The people attest to true power in their movement away from insincerity toward the truth.  They take a stand.  They reject mediocrity.  In all that we do and all that we say . . . so too, must take a stand.  It is always risky and perhaps dangerous to align ourselves with Jesus; but in the end it is the only stand that matters.


A re-post from May 11, 2011.

Image from: http://froghime.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/spell-bound-masquerade/

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Revelation 3Superficiality, Fidelity, and Mediocrity   

Tuesday, May 30, 2017    

To the church in Sardis . . . I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead . . .

sardis

A Greek temple in Sardis

To the church in Philadelphia . . . You have limited strength, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name . . .

To the church in Laodicea . . . I know that you are neither hot or cold . . .

Today we read the greetings to three of the seven churches addressed by John in the last book of the Bible.  The seven represent the universal church.  Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea have something special to tell us.

Notes will inform us that Sardis was once a capital city and was noted for its immense wealth at the time of Croesus in the 6th century before Christ.  It had a fortress with the fame of being impregnable, yet it was taken by surprise by both Cyrus and Antiochus.  This church gives the appearance of being unassailable . . . but is warned to be on its guard.  Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die, for I have not found your works complete . . .

We will also learn that Philadelphia was rebuilt by the Emperor Tiberius in C.E. 17 after a different quake.  It may be for this reason that there are references to its royal nature.  Because you have kept my message of endurance, I will keep you safe in the time of trial that is going to come . . .

Laodicea IMG_5913 - Copy

Ruins in Laodicea

Laodicea was a wealthy industrial and commercial center eighty miles east of Ephesus that exported beautiful woolen garments.  It had a famous medical school and was known for an eye salve that could be purchased there and the people had so much money that they were able to rebuild after a devastating earthquake about sixty years after Christ.  And they did this with no outside help.  They were able to stand in their own and were beholding to no one.   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 . . . (Senior 403-404)

ancient philadelphia

Ancient Philadelphia

Here we have the faithful church sandwiched between the complacent, self-satisfied, self-protecting churches.  As we contemplate this juxtaposition, we might ask ourselves where we stand today.  Are content with doing just enough?  Do we tend to appearance and neglect the inner self?  Are we bothered by poverty of all kinds, or do we brush it away where we cannot see it?  Do we even allow ourselves to see suffering in any way?  If we do, how do we react?  We can spend time in Revelation 2 and 3 and wonder how our preparations for a guest compare with how we prepare ourselves to receive Christ.  Now we focus on three churches that bring us a special window we might open into our own souls.  Are we superficial?  Are we content with mediocrity?  Do we follow Christ faithfully even though the journey of life has taken its toll?

Superficiality, Fidelity, or Mediocrity . . . how do we choose to live?  What is our guiding principal?  Whom do we follow?  Why and how do we do what we do?  The Book of Revelation announces what Christ expects.  Whoever has ears ought to hear what the spirit says to the churches. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.403-404. Print.  

For more images of a pilgrimage to the churches, click on the images of Sardis or Laodicea above, or visit: http://www.farnborough-kent-parish.org.uk/recent_turkey.html 

Adapted from a Favorite written on March 27, 2011.

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