JULY 13. Ord Time B. Wk.15 Tue. Mt.11. 20-24
Jesus began to reproach the towns in which most of his miracles had been worked, because they refused to repent.
‘Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard on Judgement day with Tyre and Sidon as with you. And as for you, Capernaum, did you want to be exalted as high as heaven? You shall be thrown down to hell. For if the miracles done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have been standing yet. And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard with the land of Sodom on Judgement day as with you.’
Today, Christ is clearly critical of those people who had witnessed his miracles but who had continued in their refusal to believe; - and not only that; - he also makes the point many others would have believed instantly, had they been witness to those same miracles.
So, he is addressing the issue of those who had both seen and heard him, but who were affected by hardness of heart; - “because they refused to repent”; - and Christ goes on to make the point these towns were the ones in which “most of his miracles had been worked!”
Repentance for sin was the purpose, not only of Christ’s life, but also of John the Baptist’s; - and here we are talking of people who had not only heard the call to repent, but had also seen the miracles he performed in support of this call!
And Christ goes on in this reading to address the issue of what happens when people refuse to heed his message; - and he leaves little doubt about the consequences of their hardness of heart saying; - “When Judgement day arrives; - You shall be thrown down to hell!”
And we need to understand this message was not just for the people of Chorazin or Bethsaida; - but for all people down the centuries; - which is why we have both the Gospels and the Church with us today!”
“I tell you, it will not go as hard on Judgement day with Tyre and Sidon as with you” is a message that still applies today for those who refuse to repent or believe in both Christ’s teachings and those of his Church.
And sadly, it appears the number of such people in today’s ‘modern’ world are increasing; - with vocations dropping significantly; - the numbers attending Church and the Sacraments reducing; - and many Christians walking away from what previously were firmly held beliefs.
The parallel between the sad circumstances outlined in today’s reading; - and those of today’s world, is that both demand a strong faith in the teachings of Jesus Christ; - and the missing ingredient in both is a lack of Faith!
The people of Chorazin and Bethsaida refused to believe what they had been told; - and it is the same issue for people today; - a refusal to believe in Christ, the Gospels, or the Church!
“Jesus began to reproach the towns in which most of his miracles had been worked, because they refused to repent.” In doing this there is little doubt he was mindful of his earliest words, in the time of John the Baptist; - “Repent, and believe the Gospel!”
Gospel Acclamation cf.Ps94:8
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.