As we approach Advent, we near the end of the Church year. With each passing day, the daily Mass readings remind us of our mortality, our need to repent, and the necessity of putting God first in our lives.
The readings for the past couple of days have been from the book of Revelation. A verse from today’s reading jumped off the page:
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. (Rev 3:15-16)
Some translations use the word spew, which strikes me as a better word.
Dictionary.com defines it as:
- to eject from the stomach through the mouth; vomit.
- to cast forth, gush, or eject, as in disgust or anger.
I know there are areas in my life where I have been or am lukewarm. Scripture doesn’t tell us what happens to the hot or the cold, but we know clearly what happens to the lukewarm. They are rejected. Revelations continues:
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. (Rev 3:17-19)
Scripture basically tells us, that we’re fat, dumb, and happy being lukewarm. We think we’re good…got it covered…everything’s cool, and yet we are “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked”. We don’t even see our need, our abject poverty, before God. So what must we do?
We must be earnest and repent.
Today might be a good day to reflect on our own lukewarmness.
Where are the areas we might be lukewarm? Love of God and love of neighbor.
Love of God:
- Is God first in our lives?
- Is prayer a priority in our lives, something for which we set aside, or is it squeezed in when we have time, between everything else?
- Do we keep holy the Sabbath?
- Is reception of the sacraments an important part of my life?
- Do we uphold and defend the holy?
- Do we strive to grow in virtue?
Love of Neighbor:
- Do we give to those in need – the poor, the lonely, the homeless, or the forgotten?
- Do we defend the unborn and the elderly?
- Does the way we talk build people up or does it tear them down?
- Do we gossip or do we hold our tongue and encourage others to do so?
- Do we speak to all others, from the smallest to the tallest, with dignity and respect even if we don’t like them?
- Are we honest and truthful in all we think, say, and do?
- Do we will the good of the other no matter who they might be?
I could go on. Even in typing these words I convict myself of my own need to be “refined by fire.” For as much as I do, I do not.
We are all called by our baptism to be Holy. The only way we can grow in holiness is to shed our selfishness. It is not easy. It happens one conscious decision at a time – the decision to love the other – the decision to put the good of the other before my own desires. This is the “narrow gate” (Mt 7:13). The road to perdition is broad and wide; it is the road of the lukewarm.
So today, and as you plan your Advent, choose one area in “Love of God” and one area in “Love of neighbor” where you really need to work and turn up the burner to make the kettle whistle!
May God bless you and keep you, Anne