Skip to comments.Catholic Caucus: Daily Mass Readings, 11-20-12
Posted on 11/19/2012 9:20:55 PM PST by Salvation
From: Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22
Letter to the Church of Sardis
Letter to the Church of Laodicea
 “’I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold
or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew
you out of my mouth.  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need
nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may
be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your na-
kedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.
 Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. 
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens
the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.  He who
conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered
and sat down with my Father on his throne.  He who has an ear, let him
hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
1. Sardis, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south-east of Thyatira, was an impor-
tant hub in the highway system; it was also famous for its acropolis, which was
located in an unassailable position. Herodotus describes its inhabitants as im-
moral, licentious people (cf. “History”, 1, 55). The Christians of the city were
probably somewhat infected by the general atmosphere.
Christ is now depicted as possessing the fullness of the Spirit, with the power to
effect radical change by sanctifying the churches from within (cf. note on 1:4).
He is also portrayed as the sovereign Lord of the universal Church (cf. note on
2:1), ever ready to imbue it with new life.
The church of Sardis is accused of seeming to be alive but in fact being dead:
in other words, although its external practice of religion makes it look Christian,
most of its members (not all: cf. v. 4) are estranged from Christ, devoid of interior
life, in a sinful condition. Anyone who lives like that is dead. Our Lord himself de-
scribed the situation of the prodigal son as being a kind of death: “my son was
dead, and is alive again”, the father exclaims in the parable (Lk 15: 24); and St
Paul invites Christians to offer themselves to God “as men who have been
brought from death to life” (Rom 6:13). Now, in this passage of Revelation, we
are told that the cause of this spiritual, but real, death is the fact that the works
of this church are imperfect in the sight of God (v. 2); they were works which led
to spiritual death, that is, what we would term mortal sins. “With the whole tradi-
tion of the Church”, John Paul II says, “we call ‘mortal sin’ the act by which man
freely and consciously rejects God, his law, the covenant of love that God offers,
preferring to turn in on himself or to some created and finite reality, something
contrary to the divine will (”conversio ad creaturam”) [...]. Man perceives that this
disobedience to God destroys the bond that unites him with his life-principle: it
is a mortal sin, that is, an act which gravely offends God and ends in turning
against man himself with a dark and powerful force of destruction” (”Reconci-
liatio Et Paenitentia”, 17).
2-3. Vigilance is always necessary, particularly in certain situations like that of
Sardis where there was a number of people who had not fallen victim to sin. In
this kind of peril, Christians need to be alerted and confirmed in the faith. They
need to remember what they learned at the beginning, when they were instructed
in the faith, and try to bring their lives into line with that teaching. And so they are
not simply exhorted to conversion but told how to go about it — by comparing their
lives with the Word of God and making the necessary changes: “no one is safe if
he ceases to strive against himself. Nobody can save himself by his own efforts.
Everyone in the Church needs specific means to strengthen himself — humility,
which disposes us to accept help and advice; mortifications, which temper the
heart and allow Christ to reign in it; the study of abiding, sound doctrine, which
leads us to conserve and spread our faith” (St. J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing
“I will come like a thief”: an image also found elsewhere in the New Testament
(cf. Mt 24:42-51, Mk 13:36; Lk 12:39ff; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Pet 3: 10). This does not
mean that our Lord is lying in wait, ready to pounce on man when he is una-
wares, like a hunter waiting for his prey. It is simply a warning to us to live in the
grace of God and be ready to render our account to him. If we do that we will not
run the risk of being found empty-handed at the moment of death. “That day will
come for us. It will be our last day, but we are not afraid of it. Trusting firmly in
God’s grace, we are ready from this very moment to be generous and coura-
geous, and take loving care of little things: we are ready to go and meet our
Lord, with our lamps burning brightly. For the feast of feasts awaits us in hea-
ven” (St. J. Escriva, “Friends of God”, 40).
4-5. Despite the corrupt environment in which they were living, there were some
Christians who had not been contaminated by the immoral cults and lifestyles of
the pagans: their loyalty is symbolized by white garments. In the course of nar-
rating his visions St John mentions white garments a number of times (cf. 7:9,
13; 15:6; 19:14); this color symbolizes purity and also the joy of victory.
The symbol of the “book of life”, which occurs often in the Apocalypse (cf. 13:8;
17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; etc.), is taken from the Old Testament, where those who
belong to the people of Israel are described as enrolled in the “book of the living”,
which is also referred to as the book of the Lord (cf. Ps 69:28; Ex 32:32ff). Those
whose names are in the book will share in the promises of salvation (cf. Is 4:3),
whereas those who are unfaithful to the Law will be excluded from the people of
God and their names blotted out of the “book of the living”. Other New Testa-
ment texts use the same image (cf., e.g., Lk 10:20; Phil 4:3).
The names of the victors will stay in the “book of life” which lists those who have
proved loyal to Christ, as well as those who belonged to the people of Israel.
Finally, on Judgment Day, those Christians who have kept the faith, will be spo-
ken for by Christ (cf. Mt 10:32; Lk 12:8).
14. Laodicea was a city on the border of Phrygia, about 75 kilometers (45 miles)
south-west of Phil