Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hope never abandons you, you abandon it

Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do. – Pope John XXIII

(Gospel text: Mt 11:20-24)
Jesus 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 nether world.

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."

What was the central theme of Jesus’ preaching today in the gospel? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 4:17). As I have been pondering over this passage I have not rejoiced over the failure of the towns referenced in it (Chorazin,  Bethsaida, Capernaum). I thought to myself: The Lord also went through our towns, our neighborhood, our homes, and... did we pay any attention to him?, did I take notice of him?

But Jesus didn’t only proclaim the coming kingdom; he demonstrated it in all he did. He healed every disease and sickness among the people. The blind received sight, the lame walked, those who had leprosy were cleansed. Even the dead were being raised. The signs of the kingdom were posted in plain sight, and Jesus expected people to see them.

The healings, acts of deliverance, and miraculous feedings should have drawn the attention of the people living in the towns around Galilee. There was Jesus, offering them a new life filled with God’s blessing and presence. There he was, demonstrating the kingdom and telling them that repentance was the only entrance requirement. There he was, offering so much and asking so little. But only a few embraced his word.

The kingdom of God is still visible today. We see it when someone is freed from guilt and shame in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We see it as we experience the love of our heavenly Father, and our fears melt away. We see it when the Holy Spirit brings a passage from Scripture to life. Wherever we see charity, patience, or self-control, we see the kingdom on display. Most of all, we see the kingdom of God when our hunger for Jesus is satisfied in the Eucharist.

Jesus came to bring the kingdom of God to earth, and that’s just what he has been doing for the past two thousand years. He has never stopped building that kingdom in individual hearts and in the network of relationships that make up his Church. We are privileged to see it and we are called to embrace it. So today, let the fire of his love soften your heart and melt away any indifference. Let your pride and self-sufficiency fall away so that you can come under his gentle yoke. As you do, you’ll experience the freedom that only citizens of this kingdom can know!

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