From Michael Dubruiel, originally published in 2003.
Today, both readings taken from the Church's Liturgy of the Hours for today's Office of Readings have selections that deal with clothing. First from the Book of Revelation:
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ’The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “’I know your works; you have the name of being alive, and you are dead. Awake, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. Remember then what you received and heard; keep that, and repent. If you will not awake, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. He who conquers shall be clad thus in white garments. I will not blot his name out of the book of life; I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
There are two aspects about this reading that I find striking; the first is that "you have the name of being alive, and you are dead", and the second, "Yet you still have a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments."
What bothers me about the present crisis is something that I have already been through myself, a revelation of what the church is like from the inside. It has taken me years to recover from this and I fear that when others encounter the elements of the structures of the church that are corrupt they too will suffer a crisis of faith. So this reading seems very relevant to the present crisis. Here we find Our Lord addressing the Church and telling this particular church that they are a "fraud". They have the name of being alive (sharing in his resurrection) but they are dead, i.e. they do not act as though they believe in the resurrection for their actions bespeak more of an Epicurean philosophy of "eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die."
There have always been elements within the church that are dead. Some of them have died the slow death by being caught up in their position of authority (forgetting that it is from the Lord), others caught up in the adulation of the moment and wishing to remain there forget that the Lord's Palm Sunday is only a stop on the journey to Calvary. Whatever the reasons, it is a fact that good people can lose sight of God and it is also a fact that bad people have often found refuge in the Church and benefited from the good will of believers. It is not for us to figure out who is the wheat or tares, which are the sheep and which the goats.