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Liturgical day: Tuesday 15th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Isa 7:1-9): In the days of Ahaz, king of Judah, son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, Rezin, king of Aram, and Pekah, king of Israel, son of Remaliah, went up to attack Jerusalem, but they were not able to conquer it. When word came to the house of David that Aram was encamped in Ephraim, the heart of the king and the heart of the people trembled, as the trees of the forest tremble in the wind.

Then the Lord said to Isaiah: «Go out to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway of the fuller’s field, and say to him: Take care you remain tranquil and do not fear; let not your courage fail before these two stumps of smoldering brands the blazing anger of Rezin and the Arameans, and of the son Remaliah, because of the mischief that Aram, Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, plots against you, saying, ‘Let us go up and tear Judah asunder, make it our own by force, and appoint the son of Tabeel king there’. Thus says the Lord: This shall not stand, it shall not be! Damascus is the capital of Aram, and Rezin is the head of Damascus; Samaria is the capital of Ephraim, and Remaliah’s son the head of Samaria. But within sixty years and five, Ephraim shall be crushed, no longer a nation. Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!
Responsorial Psalm: 47
R/. God upholds his city for ever.
Great is the Lord and wholly to be praised in the city of our God. His holy mountain, fairest of heights, is the joy of all the earth.

Mount Zion, “the recesses of the North,” is the city of the great King. God is with her castles; renowned is he as a stronghold.

For lo! the kings assemble, they come on together; they also see, and at once are stunned, terrified, routed.

Quaking seizes them there; anguish, like a woman’s in labor, as though a wind from the east were shattering ships of Tarshish.
Versicle before the Gospel (Ps 94:8): Alleluia. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Alleluia.

Gospel text (Mt 11,20-24): Jesus began to denounce the cities in which He had performed most of his miracles, because the people there did not change their ways, «Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon it will be more bearable on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had taken place in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you».

«Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida!»

Fr. Damien LIN Yuanheng
(Singapore, Singapore)

Today, Christ upbraided two Galilean cities, Chorazin and Bethsaida, for their incredulities: «Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented» (Mt 11:21). Christ himself bore witness that the Phoenician cities, Tyre and Sidon, would have done penitence in great humility, if the wonders of the divine power had been done in them.

Nobody enjoys a good scolding. It must however be especially painful to be upbraided by Christ, who loves us with his most merciful heart. There is simply no excuse, no immunity when one is reprimanded by Truth itself. Let us receive humbly and responsibly God's call to conversion each day.

We also notice that Christ did not mince his words. He placed his audience face to face with truth. We too have to take stock of the manner we speak to others about Christ. Often, we too have to fight against our human respect to put our friends before eternal truths such as death and judgment. Pope Francis wittingly described St. Paul as a “trouble-maker”, he said: «May we not take refuge in an easy-going life or in an ephemeral structure (…). Paul, preaching the Lord, caused trouble. But he persisted, because he was a zealous Christian. He had apostolic zeal. He was not a man of compromise». Let us not shun from our duty of charity.

Perhaps, like me, you may find these words of St. Josemaria Escriva enlightening: «(...) It's a question (…) of speaking words of wisdom in clear Christian speech that all can understand». We should not just rest on the laurels because we are understood by many; rather, we have to beg for the grace to be the humble instrument of the Holy Spirit, in order to put each man and woman squarely before the Divine truth.

«Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida!»

Fr. Pedro-José YNARAJA i Díaz
(El Montanyà, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, the Gospel speaks of God's historical judgement of Chorazín, Capernaum and other towns: «Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes» (Mt 11:21). Among their black ruins —all that is left out of them— I have been pondering over this passage. And I have not rejoiced over their failure. I thought: 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?

With a stone in my hand, I told myself: something like this will be all that will remain from my historical existence, if I do not responsibly live the Lord's visit. I remembered the poet: «O soul, lean now out the window: and you will see that love, when calling, holds on», and, ashamed, I admit having also answered: «Tomorrow, we shall let it in... it matters little if we answer tomorrow» (Lope de Vega).

When crossing the inhuman streets of our “dormitory towns”, I wonder: what can it be done to help this people whom I feel totally unable to establish a dialogue with, whom I cannot share my illusions with, whom it seems impossible to transmit God's love to? And then, I remember the motto St. Francis de Sales chose when he was appointed bishop of Geneva —the then maximum exponent of the Protestant Reformation: «Where God planted us, we must yearn to bloom». And if, with a stone in my hand at times I wonder about God's strict judgement that may befall, at other times —with a wild little flower, born amongst the weeds and the manure in high mountains— I see that I should not lose Hope. I must reciprocate the goodness shown to me by God, and thus, what meager generosity I may place in the heart of whoever I am greeting, or the interested and attentive glance towards whoever is asking me some information, or just my smile of thanks addressed to whoever yields to let me through, will flourish in future. And Faith will not be lost in our environment.