Revelation 3:14-22 - The fervour of love

Today a look at St Bede's commentary on the message to the last of the seven churches, Laodicea.


St Bede interprets the word Laodicea two ways:
Laodicea means "the lovely tribe of the Lord," or, "they were in vomiting." For there were there both those to whom He said, "I will spew thee out of My mouth," and those also to whom He said this, "Whom I love, I rebuke and chasten." But, according to the Greek, it is interpreted, "a just people."
14 Et angelo Laodiciæ ecclesiæ scribe: Hæc dicit: Amen, testis fidelis et verus, qui est principium creaturæ Dei.
14 And to the angel of the church of Laodicea, write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, who is the beginning of the creation of God:

He suggests that Amen here means "truly," or "faithfully.":
Christ, therefore, Who in the essence of His divinity is truth, declared that, by the mystery of His Incarnation, He was made "the beginning of the creation of God," that He may train the Church by these things for the endurance of sufferings
15-16 Scio opera tua: quia neque frigidus es, neque calidus: utinam frigidus esses, aut calidus:sed quia tepidus es, et nec frigidus, nec calidus, incipiam te evomere ex ore meo:
15-16 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot.But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.

This Church suffers from lukewarmness, and will suffer expulsion as a result:
Thou art neither fervent in faith, nor entirely unbelieving. But, if thou wert still unbelieving, there would yet remain to thee the hope of conversion, whereas now, in that thou doest not the will of the Lord which thou knowest, thou shalt be cast forth from the bosom of My Church.
17 quia dicis: Quod dives sum, et locupletatus, et nullius egeo: et nescis quia tu es miser, et miserabilis, et pauper, et cæcus, et nudus.
17 Because thou sayest: I am rich, and made wealthy, and have need of nothing: and knowest not, that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
18 Suadeo tibi emere a me aurum ignitum probatum, ut locuples fias, et vestimentis albis induaris, et non appareat confusio nuditatis tuæ, et collyrio inunge oculos tuos ut videas.
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold fire tried, that thou mayest be made rich; and mayest be clothed in white garments, and that the shame of thy nakedness may not appear; and anoint thy eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

St Bede interprets their apparent wealth as meant spiritually: faith alone, he notes is not enough unless it is actually reflected in good works.  His instruction on the text sounds suspiciously like a  call to be a monk:
Thou art content with faith alone, and it is in vain that thou layest claim to the treasures of righteousness. But if thou desirest to be truly rich, forsake all things, and buy the fervour of love, proved in the flame of afflictions and anoint the eyes of thy mind, not with the antimony of deceitful boasting, but with the eye-salve of divine knowledge. To anoint the eyes with eye-salve is to gain an understanding of holy Scripture by the performance of a good work.
19 Ego quos amo, arguo, et castigo. Æmulare ergo, et pœnitentiam age.
19 Such as I love, I rebuke and chastise. Be zealous therefore, and do penance.

St Bede instructs us to embrace humiliations (cf RB 58):
Do not shrink from suffering adversity, seeing that this is an especial proof that thou art loved by the Lord.
20-21 Ecce sto ad ostium, et pulso: si quis audierit vocem meam, et aperuerit mihi januam, intrabo ad illum, et cœnabo cum illo, et ipse mecum.Qui vicerit, dabo ei sedere mecum in throno meo: sicut et ego vici, et sedi cum Patre meo in throno ejus.
20-21 Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.To him that shall overcome, I will give to sit with me in my throne: as I also have overcome, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

God is knocking on the door of our house, inviting us to his:
I knock, indeed, at the door of thy heart with the right hand of exhortation, and if thou receive it willingly, thou shalt be deemed worthy of My dwelling with thee, and being fellow-heir with thee...By "sitting with Him" He means, being a partner in power and judgement. "Who has made us sit together," he says, "in heavenly places in Christ."
22 Qui habet aurem, audiat quid Spiritus dicat ecclesiis.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.

And with this last repetition of this verse, St Bede calls us to the observance of another key Benedictine virtue, obedience:
we are without doubt to understand the ears of the heart for obedience to the commands.

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