Jesus said to them, “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, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.’ Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” (Luke 10:13-16)
Hardening of our arteries is the beginning of our leaving this world and passing over. We understand that.
But just as life threatening is when our faith leaves us or when we consistently turn away from the Lord. Just as blood courses through our veins so does our faith. Our faith is a constant presence, a gift from God. We can’t ignore its role in our life, for it is life giving.
Jesus described the spiritual hardening of the arteries at the end of today’s scripture in terms of what happens to him and what will likewise happen to us. Either God’s word will be received or rejected. “Whoever listens to you listens to me,” Jesus says. “Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
Jesus is calling all of us to ponder whether we really listen to him or reject him, especially as he speaks to us through his emissaries, the apostles, and through other faith filled Christians.
This means that we are not only God’s disciples but God’s messengers. With our example, our deeds, and our words, Jesus is continuing to spread his Gospel in the world; he speaks through us. This is our core identity as Christians — disciples who are missionaries, followers of Christ who are also his messengers. But this also means that he continues to speak to us through our brothers and sisters in Christ.
He also has us recognize that one of the greatest gifts we give to others is the opportunity to receive Jesus through receiving us, which is why we go out to evangelize.
We can choose to follow God’s call when we hear it in the Gospels, in our conscience, through the compassionate acts of another, in the teachings of the Church—or not.
We can choose to accept God’s invitation of mercy as often as he makes it–and he makes it unceasingly–or not. True, our freedom is not absolute. It is conditioned by many factors, but it is still present. And what we do with it, how we respond to the challenges, opportunities, and invitations that God sends or permits, determines the kind of person we will be.
In this sense, Christians are the ultimate existentialists: Our existence is a gift, and what we choose to do with that gift day after day determines whether our lives will end up being “meaning-full” or “meaning-less.” God invites us to be his partners in building up a Kingdom of infinite value, but he refuses to force us.
His heart is not indifferent to the indifference of the people he loves and wants to fill with his grace. We encounter this passionate heart of the Lord throughout the holy Scriptures. God is constantly intervening in the life of his people, constantly calling them to trust him and follow him. And even though they often do not or will not hear and heed him, he simply will not give up. He continues to speak out, to call, to invite. He cares. We matter to him—deeply! Let that sink in: I matter to Jesus; he cares deeply about me.
If we take that into our heart, if we embrace that love as he embraces us, each of us would find the words from our mouth change, the thoughts in our minds turn to the positive and that which is healthy, the actions of our lives becoming a beacon of light and hope for the Christ who so loves us.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, give me the child-like simplicity and purity of faith to gaze upon your face with joy and confidence in your all-merciful love. Remove every doubt, fear, and proud thought which would hinder me from receiving your word with trust and humble submission. Let me be an emissary of your love.”
Why does Jesus lament and issue a stern warning? The people who heard the Gospel here very likely responded with indifference. Jesus upbraids them for doing nothing! 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 soul as well as body. Jesus’ anger is directed toward sin and everything which hinders us from doing the will of God and receiving his blessing. In love he calls us to walk in his way of truth and freedom, grace and mercy, justice and holiness. Do you receive his word with faith and submission or with doubt and indifference?