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Reproaches to unrepentant towns

Gospel Reading: Lk 10:13-16
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.”

Jesus compares these three towns to a trio of notorious Old Testament cities: Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom. Tyre and Sidon, prosperous seacoast towns located about 20 miles apart on the Mediterranean, were favorite targets of the prophets for their pride and affluent arrogance (cf Is 23:1-12; Jer 25:22; Ez 28:11-23; Jl 4:4-8; Zec 9:1-4). Sodom, whose sad story is told in Gn 19, is the most famous symbol of urban iniquity in scripture (cf Is 1:9-10; Am 4:11). Jesus announces to Chorazin and Bethsaida that if the mighty works performed in them had been done in Tyre and Sidon, the latter cities would have rushed down the aisle of repentance. Likewise, Jesus informs his hometown, Capernaum, that if Sodom had been given the opportunity to see the works of power they have seen, instead of being a rubbish heap, Sodom would still be standing (the saying addressed to Capernaum about going “down to the netherworld” in Mt 11:23 is a paraphrase of a jab at Babylon found in Is 14:13-15). The message here is that Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom were rough towns, all right, but, after all, they never had the benefit of the gospel of the Kingdom and the mighty works of Jesus. All in all, judgment day will be more tolerable for them than for the cities of Galilee, which have turned a cold shoulder to the good news.

“If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (cf Ps 95:7-8).

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.