Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22
The law, as reflected in this psalm today, is an accusation against us. “Who can go to heaven?”, the psalm asks, and it answers, “He who walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue. Who harms not his fellow man, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor; who lends not his money at usury, and accepts no bribe against the innocent.” Who can hear all that without being aware of their own failure to live up to it? When we are young, we are told to be good, and we try to be good. As we grow, we look forward to a day when we have grown out of our faults, but eventually we realize that we are making no progress. There are two human responses to this realization: we can give up trying to follow the law and accept our sins, that we will always be selfish, greedy, and cruel, or we can just pretend that we are following the law, though we know better. We can be a sinner like Zacchaeus or a hypocrite like the Pharisees, or in all likelihood, some combination of each.
Yet even after we have given up the desire of our youth to actually be good, the desire is not entirely dead. If there were a pill we could take that would fix us, and allow us to be generous and loving and consistent, who would not gladly take it? Or, if it were not something so simple, but rather a mountain we had to climb, who would not climb it? But the truth is that there is a solution to our problem. In this reading from Revelation, there are some harsh accusations against the Churches in Sardis and Laodicea, but they are accompanied by an offer. “Buy from me gold, and white garments, and ointment for your eyes. Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise.”
Jesus is the cure to what ails us. It does not come in an instant. It is more like climbing a mountain than taking a pill, but this solution is real. This possibility is real. It is not necessary to give up. Our efforts are useless on their own, but with Jesus Christ, we have the power to become the people we have always wanted to be. He is holding out his gifts and begging us to make use of them.