Smug and in God's Face
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 spew 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."
" ... 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."
likely that you understand these words in an explicitly
material sense ... and you would do well, to do so. How
many of us are complacent in our material prosperity,
building yet greater barns in the form of "trophy houses"
(houses built as a "statement" ... not as a place in which
to raise children) in which we envision ourselves in a digital
nirvana, unaware that our souls will be demanded of us before
the night passes. We see ourselves not so much through our
own eyes, as through the eyes of others: they
invest us with a value that corresponds to, is commensurable
with, our success in accumulating, acquiring, amassing,
matter as emblematic of value.
It really is
a matter of perspective — and taste.
point of view we have merely succeeded in blinding ourselves.
We do not see that what we have gathered to ourselves are
the very things so distasteful to God that He is prepared
to spew them out as something vile.
A more profound
dimension remains often untouched: our lack of poverty,
not in things material, but in things spiritual. How many
of us realistically consider ourselves in terms of the poverty
of our spirit?
we are, as it were, the fourth, as yet to be acknowledged
person in a holy quadrinity. Next to God, we are inerrant,
impeccant (without sin).
Do you doubt
this? Count the number of people who go to Holy Communion
(really, it would be easier to count the number who do
not go ... most often a cipher)
— then count the number of people lined up for Holy Confession
We have amassed to ourselves a spiritual and often garish
grandiosity that speaks eloquently of our complacency. Sin
is a phenomenon that occurs in "others" –
not in our parish, maybe not even in the Catholic Church.
Perhaps not in Christianity itself. We have become our own
"redeemers", and the very people who should be admonishing
us against this, our bishops, priests, catechists, "Ministers-of-this--that-and-the-other"
— are the people who are most eager to place the laurel
of victory on our proud heads ... even if the race is not
Were we just
tepid, we would — or at least should — fear being
spewed from the mouth of God Who sees our hypocrisy. But
we are worse than tepid ... we are arrogant, unwilling to
acknowledge our wretched, pitiable poverty. We are naked
... and do not even know it. Or what is worse yet, know
it, and pretend that we have no shame.
for the Boston Catholic Journal