Then he began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent.”Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/)
On a regular basis men enter my office at Demontreville to lament the wayward life of one of their children. It might be a son who is caught up in a life of addiction, or a daughter who lives with her boyfriend. Maybe several children no longer practice their Catholic faith, or any faith at all. The more loving and virtuous the parents have been in raising the child, the deeper the pain and disappointment at his or her decision to stray from the family’s values.
If you can relate to these retreatants because of your own personal experience, then you can also understand the sadness and exasperation in Jesus’ Heart as He excoriates the populations of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum in today’s Gospel, towns “where most of His mighty deeds had been done”. Despite all of the miracles and graces offered to them, many of the inhabitants of these three cities remained unrepentant.
Today’s Gospel also serves as a warning for us. Jesus has worked powerful signs for each of us. He has showered many blessings upon you and me. Consider for a moment what Jesus accomplishes in just two sacraments. How often he has forgiven us in the sacrament of Reconciliation! How frequently He offers us His very self and life in the Eucharist! Yet we, too, fail to repent fully of our sins. We sometimes justify rather than avoid venial sins, and neglect to cultivate a “holy hatred” of even the smallest failures to love God and our neighbor.
St. Ignatius certainly experienced a deep repentance in his own life, and sought to share such an experience of conversion with others through the Spiritual Exercises. Let us recommit ourselves today to such basic elements of genuine repentance as daily prayer, frequent Confession, small but regular acts of mortification, exercising patience and charity in daily situations of inconvenience and frustration, performing the boring or routine tasks at work with attention and joy.
—Fr. Rob Kroll, S.J.
Lord, we pray for those we love who are stuggling to find their purpose, to recognize their talents and to use them to make a difference in other people’s lives. Give us the persistence to keep praying for them and the hope that eventually their lives will be filled with meaning. We also pray that we always be open to your forgiveness and that we halt any negative self-talk that tells us we are unworthy of communion with you.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team