Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum: Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the nether world. For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:20-24)
At an initial reading, today’s scripture is startling and to some people lacking in relevance to our lives today.
It is exactly the opposite.
Jesus was expressing his sadness and grief over three cities in which he preached and which had also experienced his miracles. But the people who heard Him responded with indifference. Jesus upbraids them for doing nothing!
He recognizes that we are a people mangled by sin, and due to sin, we sometimes are unable to see God’s presence in our lives (similar to the inhabitants of the three cities). He is calling us to recognize this reality so we might be able to turn away from sin and direct our whole selves to God. He is calling us to repentance, and is emphasizing that the first part of true repentance is identifying our faults and failures. In this way, we might better know where we need to ask God for guidance and strength.
Repentance demands change – a change of heart and way of life. God’s word is life-giving and it saves us from destruction – the destruction of heart, mind, and soul as well as body. Jesus’ anger is directed toward sin and everything which hinders us from doing the will of God. In love he calls us to walk in his way of truth and freedom, grace and mercy, justice and holiness. Love produces an abundance of gratitude and understanding. Love is paid in full only with love. Our true quality of life does not depend upon income, but rather on our expenses, how much we gave; that is, how we loved.
We should always strive to be loved. We should examine our lives against our fealty to Him? Are we faithful to our personal commitments with the Lord? Do I know what the Lord demands from me today? Have I put myself in my neighbor’s place and am I willing to give until it hurts? Life is all about grace, and what I do with what the Lord generously gives to me. How do I respond to the Lord’s voice? Listen carefully because “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
For our part, we should pray for the insight to see where we need God’s guidance and grace and for the courage to allow God to fully enter into our lives.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, enlighten the darkness of our hearts and give us a true faith, a certain hope and a perfect love. Give us a sense of the divine and knowledge of yourself, so that we may do everything in fulfillment of your holy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Prayer of Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226)
A hard heart is like a prison cell. The one who suffers the most is the one who cannot forgive or ask for forgiveness! “Repentance does not come from God – it is not forced upon anyone. Repentance comes from the heart, the center of all my decisions. Jesus invites us to his banquet, we need only to attend. God knows miracles will never be enough. Not even the resurrection was enough. Not even coming down from the cross would have been enough. We are stubborn. We talk about donkeys being stubborn, but nothing compares to a prideful man (or woman!)