An Encounter With Christ

Encounter-with-Christ

In the Book of Revelation, St. John is writing to the seven Churches of Asia at a time of great persecution. Our Lord wishes to speak to these Churches through the writing of St. John and offers words of both praise and condemnation. The praise is for those Churches that are making an effort to live the faith; the condemnation is for those Churches that are not. To the Church of Laodicea John writes, “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev.3:16)

Laodicea was a wealthy city in the province of Phrygia (modern-day Turkey). It was famous for its aqueducts that brought fresh water to the city. The people enjoyed cool, flowing water that was refreshing and in great abundance; stagnant water was avoided because it was always lukewarm and less pure. Jesus considers the inhabitants of this city to be spiritually ambivalent like ‘lukewarm’ water. They are apathetic toward things of faith and this has created a spiritual blindness. They do not see a need for God and simply rely on themselves. So much time and attention is given to gaining wealth and very little effort is made to gain heaven. I believe that this situation is not unique to Laodicea and can still be found today in many other places, including our own country.

A 2015 Angus Reid survey in Canada stated, “Largest group puts itself in the ‘mushy middle’ on religion; ranks of those embracing faith are shrinking.” The statistics speak for themselves: 26% inclined to reject religion, 30% inclined to embrace religion, and 44% somewhere in-between. The statistics show that the largest segment are those Canadians who are ambivalent toward religion. It is this apathy that Jesus is condemning in
his address to the Church of Laodicea. I think that it is reasonable to say that he is also condemning the ‘mushy middle’ of Canada today.

A few verses after his rebuke, Jesus speaks of his love and concern for the Church of Laodicea: “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open
the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. (Rev.3:20)

I think that many of us are familiar with the artistic representation of this passage. We see Jesus knocking at a door that has no handle on the outside. This indicates that the door can only be opened from the inside. So the real tragedy is that people cannot be bothered to open the door to Christ; we need to invite him into our lives so that he can eat with us. The
best place for this to happen is the Eucharist.

We are called to be on fire with the Lord and to follow him enthusiastically. During this Holy Year let us move from the ‘mushy middle’ to Christ. Let us open the door of our hearts to his transforming love and mercy.
It is interesting to note that in the Book of Revelation, Jesus says that if you open the door, “…I will come in to you and eat This is what we do at Mass. We believe that the Holy Eucharist is spiritual food. Just as food nourishes the body, the Holy Eucharist nourishes the  soul; however, there is a significant difference. The food we eat becomes one with us; in Holy Communion something much more profound happens. We become one with what we eat—Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life. We are drawn into the mystery of God as our soul is united to Christ our Saviour. This sacramental union is pure grace and offers a foretaste of what awaits us in paradise when we will have perfect union with God.

Sadly, many Catholics today are ‘lukewarm’ regarding this great mystery of faith and rarely attend Mass. Many need to rediscover the transforming power of the Eucharist.

We are currently celebrating a Jubilee Year of Mercy. This provides a wonderful opportunity to move from apathy to commitment. Pope Francis has asked that every cathedral throughout the world have a Holy Door as part of this Jubilee. This door symbolizes Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life.

It is also a symbol of our desire to open the door of our hearts to the Lord so that we can be transformed. Part of this transformation is moving from being simply ‘lukewarm’ to be like the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, who experienced burning hearts as they walked with the Lord. They invited him to eat with them and they recognized him in the breaking of the bread. The Holy Eucharist will help to transform us.

Jesus is warning us, like the people of Laodicea, not to be ‘lukewarm’.  “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open
the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” (Rev.3:20)