Zacchaeus and the Angel of the Church in Laodicea had led self-centered lives, but while Zacchaeus took the opportunity of changing himself, that Angel didn't.

Tuesday, 11/20/12

At the beginning the two men in today’s readings were very much alike.

The first reading presents us with the “Angel of the Church in Laodicea,” whom we take to be the bishop of that town on the Lycus river in southwestern Turkey. (A Syrian king had named it after his bride Laodice.) The bishop there had turned his energies toward making himself comfortable, and he looked forward to staying comfortable. He was not a particularly evil man, he was just blah. As the Lord said, “You are neither hot not cold. But, because you are lukewarm I will spew you out of my mouth.” 

In the same way Zacchaeus in the Gospel had devoted his energies towards making himself comfortable. He had made the practice of extorting funds from taxpayers. The difference with him was that he was not determined to stay self-centered. When he saw the chance of making something of his life, he climbed a tree, and he told the Lord, “If I have extorted anything from anyone I will repay them four times over.

St. Thomas Aquinas in one verse of his Hymn “Pange Lingua” recorded the opposite results flowing from the way people receive Holy Communion. In English it would be,

“The good receive, the bad receive, with the unequal results of life or destruction.”  
                  Summunt bonum, summunt male; Sortem tamen, inequale: vitus ver interritus.” 

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