Jesus began to denounce the cities in which He had performed most of his miracles, because the people there did not change their ways, «Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon it will be more bearable on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had taken place in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you».
Jesus doesn’t asks us to be mystic or be a great intellectual to interpret the realities of life. Jesus is inviting us to be simple like a child to see all that happens, particularly the movements inside and outside of ourselves. Through these visible realities we are called to perceive the invisible truth of God’s presence in our life. Though we may not have the occasion to profit the divine miracles of life in a personal way, it’s humanly sufficient to see the miracles happening around us to believe in God, who is in action. The divine works are visible only to those who see the realities of life without wearing coloured glasses. The more we learn to look at life in a simple and whole, the more we will be close to the truth of life.
This openness of life will help us to identify the various divine realities where God continues to exercise His presence in our life. The salvation history of the people of Israel is our own history and if we believe in that history, we have to believe that this God is alive in us and through us. Can we be still stupid to say that God has forgotten me without knowing how much God loves and accompanies us through our brothers and sisters, friends and dear ones? Jesus is asking you and me to be simply reasonable in our statements of life.
«Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida!»
Fr. Damien LIN Yuanheng
Today, Christ upbraided two Galilean cities, Chorazin and Bethsaida, for their incredulities: «Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented» (Mt 11:21). Christ himself bore witness that the Phoenician cities, Tyre and Sidon, would have done penitence in great humility, if the wonders of the divine power had been done in them.
Nobody enjoys a good scolding. It must however be especially painful to be upbraided by Christ, who loves us with his most merciful heart. There is simply no excuse, no immunity when one is reprimanded by Truth itself. Let us receive humbly and responsibly God's call to conversion each day.
We also notice that Christ did not mince his words. He placed his audience face to face with truth. We too have to take stock of the manner we speak to others about Christ. Often, we too have to fight against our human respect to put our friends before eternal truths such as death and judgment. Pope Francis wittingly described St. Paul as a “trouble-maker”, he said: «May we not take refuge in an easy-going life or in an ephemeral structure (…). Paul, preaching the Lord, caused trouble. But he persisted, because he was a zealous Christian. He had apostolic zeal. He was not a man of compromise». Let us not shun from our duty of charity.
Perhaps, like me, you may find these words of St. Josemaria Escriva enlightening: «(...) It's a question (…) of speaking words of wisdom in clear Christian speech that all can understand». We should not just rest on the laurels because we are understood by many; rather, we have to beg for the grace to be the humble instrument of the Holy Spirit, in order to put each man and woman squarely before the Divine truth.