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Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

Have you ever wondered why Jesus singles out certain cities for his condemnation by name? In today's Gospel reading he singles out Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for special criticism. At the same time, he seems to praise Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom.

Chorazin and Bethsaida were seats of Jewish intellectual pursuit; they were known for their theological schools and for their scholarly bent. Capernaum was the adopted hometown of Jesus, and as such would have witnessed many of his miracles and heard many of his sermons. They have been blessed with much learning and by his presence. However, as we have heard in another passage from the Gospel, when one has much, more is expected.

On the other hand Tyre, Sidon, and especially Sodom are remembered as cities of particularly heinous acts and sins. To be compared to these cities would have been insulting. The reaction to Jesus' criticism would have been vehement. How dare he compare us to those sinners?

Sound familiar? So often we look our relationship to God by comparing it to others and claiming that we are better than so and so. After all, he/she doesn't even go to church on Sunday. Everyone knows that he/she cheats on his/her income tax, etc. The laundry list of sins and character flaws can get quite long when we are trying to justify our own lackluster and mediocre relationship.

The point is that such comparisons are odious in the extreme. Relationships cannot be measured like a cup of sugar. Though poets have tried to express the depth and breadth and length and width of their love, for those who love God, no such measure is available. God's love is immeasurable. To say that it is deeper than the ocean doesn't come close to describing it. While it may seem that Jesus is comparing the merits of certain cities in today's reading, what he is really saying is that each of us has the opportunity to respond to God's love. Don't let it slip by.

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