17 July
Mt 11:20-24

Jesus 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 judgement 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 judgement it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.

If the stars came out only one night in a hundred years the whole human race would look up.  Some astronomers believe that eventually no stars will be visible to the naked eye because they will all be too distant from one another.  So take a good look!  Familiarity breeds blindness. 

Tyre, Sidon and Sodom (sample cases of wickedness) would have opened their eyes, Jesus says, but God's people took Jesus’ “deeds of power” for granted.  This is why the Gospel has to be proclaimed to the whole world: no one can tell who is going to hear it and who is not going to hear it.  Like every lover, the God of Surprises sends unexpected gifts, or leaves them hidden in unexpected places.

Nazareth was the most unexpected place of all.  “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46).  When Jesus was born, pagan astrologers came from afar to do him homage, but his own country-man, Herod, tried to kill him. 

It was appropriate then that when he grew to be a man he had an eye for the unexpected.  He praised the faith of a Roman pagan centurion (Mt 8:10) and a Canaanite pagan woman (Mt 15:28); he told an expert on Jewish law to imitate the behaviour of a pagan Samaritan (Lk 10:37); he befriended the outcasts of society, tax-collectors and sinners.  Almost everything he did was unexpected: the authorities could hardly fail to see him.  But when they did they determined to kill him. 

Full sensory equipment is no guarantee that we will see or hear what is right in front of us; or see and hear aright.  Jesus often used the expression, “anyone who has ears to hear” (Mt 11:15; Mk 4:9, 23; 7:16; Lk 8:8; 14:35).  Today we are so bombarded with sights and sounds that we have to filter out most of what strikes our senses.  Dangerous times!


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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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