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Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time. The reading is from Gospel of Matthew 11:20-24.

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by John Martin, 1852.

Jesus Reproaches Unrepentant Towns – Matthew 11:20-24

Then he began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented.

“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 in sackcloth and ashes.

But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.

And as for you, Capernaum:

‘Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will go down to the netherworld.’

For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.

This is the parallel passage found in Luke

Jesus Reproaches Unrepentant Towns – Luke 10:12-16

I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.

“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 reproaches the towns of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum where most of his mighty deeds had been done. These three towns are located in Galilee.

However, Matthew has no records of Jesus’ ministry in either Chorazin or Bethsaida. He is merely repeating an earlier oral tradition concerning the ministry of Jesus in  these two towns.

According to Matthew, the following miracles were done by Jesus in Capernaum.

  • Heals a centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5-13)
  • Heals Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15),
  • Heals a paralytic (Matthew 9:1-8),
  • Resuscitates the official’s daughter and cures the woman with a hemorrhage (Matthew 9:18-26)
  • Heals two blind men (Matthew 9:27-31)
  • Heals a mute person (Matthew 9:32-34)
  • and many other healings (Matthew 8:16-17, 9:35-36)

Capernaum was where Jesus lived after John was arrested

  • When he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: (Matthew 4:12-13).

Matthew refers to it as Jesus’ “own town”

  • He entered a boat, made the crossing, and came into his own town. (Matthew 9:1)

The issue in today’s  gospel reading is the repentance that should have followed the witness of Jesus’ “mighty deeds” – manifested in healings, miracles, preaching, teaching.

Chorazin and Bethsaida do not repent. Their lack of repentance is compared to Tyre and Sidon, pagan cities, denounced for their wickedness by the prophets of the Old Testament (cf Jl 4:4-7; Is 23, Ez 26-28).

Capernaum’s lack of repentance is compared to that of Sodom destroyed because of its grave sin

  • So the LORD said: The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave, (Genesis 18:20)

Capernaum’s pride and punishment are described in language taken from the taunt song against the king of Babylon (Isaiah 14:13–15).

In your heart you said:

“I will scale the heavens;
Above the stars of God
I will set up my throne;
I will take my seat on the Mount of Assembly,
on the heights of Zaphon.

I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will be like the Most High!”

No! Down to Sheol you will be brought
to the depths of the pit!

According to Matthew, repentance is a key dimension of authentic discipleship. Those who hear Jesus and witness his mighty deeds and do not repent, are worse
than Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom, the epitome of lack of repentance.

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