Reproaches to Unrepentant Towns

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Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time


Matthew 11:20-24

Then he 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 netherworld. 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.”


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to be your disciple so that others may come to know, love, and follow you.


Encountering Christ:


  1. Abundant Love: Jesus’s reproach seems very harsh today. But we cannot forget the God who speaks. He created us out of love and for love. From the beginning of creation to the present day, God’s love continues to be rejected. But the Lord is persistent. He comes again and again, giving us the opportunity to receive him. While his words seem harsh it is because he has knocked at the door time and time again. His love is abundant, and while he has been very patient, he finally speaks words of woe to those who close themselves off to the extraordinary gift that he is ready and willing to give at the first gesture of openness.
  2. The Consoling Disciple: We can imagine the pained heart of Jesus upon finding closed doors. But the disciples who say, “Yes, I will follow you” are his consolation. They will share in his pain, experience slammed doors and closed hearts, just like he did. They will also be a consolation to Jesus as they go forth to put a little wedge in the door so Christ can finally enter. The disciple never knows how the Spirit will move hearts to finally listen to God’s word and repent. As disciples, we may be ready to judge, as Jesus seemed to be doing in this passage. But our role is not judgment or condemnation. Our role is to be a testimony to the abundant love of God.
  3. The Least Expected Converts: One would think that Bethsaida and Corazin would have been full of repentant converts when Jesus worked his miracles among them. On the contrary, these Jewish towns rejected the very person their people were waiting for all along. Jesus alludes to Tyre and Sidon being the places where he would find open hearts. This is so ironic since they were the more pagan towns to the north, and the least likely places to find God’s favor. Once again, Jesus proves that God’s love is abundant and can enter wherever there is an open door.


Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me to be your faithful and consoling disciple through the testimony of my life. Grant that I may not be a condemning judge of anyone, but rather remain hopeful that your grace can reach the most unexpected places. 


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will be attentive to the least expected places, people, or events where your grace can be mightily present through me.

For Further Reflection: Nail Polish and Jesus, The Word among Us, January 2019.


Written by Jennifer Ristine.

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