Friday of Week 26 of Ordinary Time – Gospel

Commentary on Luke 10:13-16

Strong words today from Jesus against towns where he had preached extensively – Chorazin, Bethsaida and especially Capernaum.

Chorazin is only mentioned twice in the Bible, here and in the parallel passage of Matthew 11:21. It was near the Sea of Galilee and probably between 3 and 4 km north of Capernaum. Bethsaida, the home of some of Jesus’ disciples, was on the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee. It had been built by Philip the Tetrarch, who called it ‘Julias’ after Julia, a daughter of the emperor Caesar Augustus. Capernaum, situated on the north shore of the lake, appears frequently in the Gospel narratives and was the centre from which Jesus did much of his missionary work. His work and preaching would have been most familiar to the people there.

Jesus says that if the Gentile cities of Tyre and Sidon had witnessed all that Jesus had said and done in those towns of Palestine they would have repented long ago, just as the pagan people of Niniveh had repented at the preaching of Jonah.

Tyre and Sidon were towns on the Phoenician coast, north of Palestine (Lebanon today). Jesus was said to have visited the area just once and only very briefly, so the people there did not have an opportunity to witness Jesus’ miracles or hear his preaching, unlike the people in the towns mentioned above.

And Jesus goes further. Addressing his disciples he says:

Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.

In other words, to listen to the messengers of Jesus is equivalent to listening to him personally; to reject those messengers is to reject Jesus and to reject God.

And, in our own times, perhaps we should emphasise that those “messengers” are not just bishops, priests and religious. They include all those who sincerely proclaim the Gospel by their words and their lives.

It might be no harm then for each of us today to hear those warnings of Jesus addressed to ourselves. How well have we really responded to the call of Jesus in the Gospel? How open are we to hear that message coming to us from different kinds of people in our community? How committed are we to accepting, living and sharing that Gospel with others?

Might it be true to say that there are people in other parts of our world, our country, our society who, if they were given what we have been given, who heard what we hear, would respond much more generously than we have done?

There is never any room for complacency in our Christian life. Because we have been given so much, so much more is expected of us. As Jesus says elsewhere, we may be very surprised to see others, who never had an opportunity directly to hear the Gospel, go before us into God’s Kingdom.

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