Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22
To be a Christian is to be a work in progress. In one sense, of course, we are loved exactly as we are; we don’t have to be perfect in order to be cherished by God.
But that does not mean we have a "pass" to be complacent of heart or self-satisfied in the ease of our own lives. We are continually being called to renew ourselves in the Holy Spirit, to reach out where there is suffering, to be humbled by the goodness of God.
It must have been difficult in the early Church, just as it is now, to keep the spiritual fires burning as the actual event of Jesus’ presence on earth receded farther into the past. Clearly the members of the Church in Sardis and Laodicea had either strayed into sinfulness or were content to merely look like they were doing all the right spiritual things. But the reality was that something was going terribly wrong. Not unlike the Pharisees of an earlier day, perhaps, they had drifted from the heart of their spiritual call and were at risk of becoming dead inside.
And then there is the robust picture of Zacchaeus bounding up into the tree to see the face of Jesus, giving away his riches to the poor, joyfully welcoming Jesus into his home. He is the essence of generosity itself; and we see the promise of salvation given to the "sinner," the one who is not perfect but who is changing toward the good because he has met the Savior and allowed the Holy Spirit to breathe new life into him.
Nancy Nickel is director of communications at the Passionist Development Office in Chicago.