It will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon and for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you…
This gospel begins with some strong words and emotions from Jesus, where is this coming from? What could make Jesus so upset? I once heard Bishop Ken Untener from the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan say that if you are ever uncertain what the message of the Scriptures for the day are, look to the Psalm – he said “the Psalm is the ‘key’ to unlock the lectionary”.
I have to admit when I read this Gospel passage, my first thought was ‘Oh my, what do I do with this!’ Then I turned to the Psalm, Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.
Jesus had been to Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, the people there knew him, they had met him, experienced him, witnessed his very presence and yet they were indifferent, they didn’t care, they weren’t changed. They simply bought in to the ‘group think’ of the society around them.
Our faith invites us to know Jesus, to experience him, witness his presence in our world today. How do we respond to that challenge of faith? Are we willing to ‘turn to the Lord’ in difficult times? Are we willing to stand with him in the face of oppression, despair, hopelessness and speak the truth that calls us to be brothers and sisters in Christ? To work for justice, equality and life for all people. The choice is ours, are we willing to know Jesus enough to build his Kingdom or are we going to hear “Woe to you…”
Faith Offman is the Associate Director of Ministry at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center in Detroit, Michigan.