To understand today’s gospel passage takes some work. Not so much intellectual struggling as plain research. If we only read the quoted verses, at first it seems as if Jesus is saying how poorly He was received in Chorizan, Bethsaida, and Capernaum (His home town!) but then, He compliments them! After His condemnation He says, “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me…” How does this follow? Going back to the full gospel provides the answer. Jesus is addressing the 72 disciples He is sending forth to perform great deeds. It is to them that He says “Whoever listens to you listens to me.” Jesus is speaking of the repentance of entire towns and lands. He is sending His disciples out to accomplish this.
It is sometimes easy to despair when it seems that everyone in our organization, our city, our country, our world is in need of repentance (a change of thinking). And yet, we see that this is possible. The Civil Rights movement in the 60’s, Ghandi’s march across India, the end of apartheid in South Africa, these all show that God can call entire nations to repentance through the work of individuals.
My prayer for today is that I listen for God’s call to repentance in my own life and that I have the courage and strength to call others by example.
Talib Huff is a volunteer at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center in Citrus Heights, California.