Salvation in Repentance

Matthew 11:20-24
Ex 2:1-15 / Ps 69

…if the miracles done among you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. (Matthew 11: 23)

Let us heed the words of Jesus:
The worse for those without remorse;
We know that there is no excuse,
Repentance is our sole recourse.

Then Jesus began to criticize openly the cities in which He had done many of His miracles, because they had not repented. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you! And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be thrown down to Hades! For if the miracles done among you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for the region of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you!” (Matthew 11:20-24)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel passage clearly sends out a warning to those who live in the lap of luxury, and do not feel the urgency of making peace with their Creator by asking for the forgiveness of their sins and their indifference. Along the shores of the Sea of Galilee were once found the four beautiful ancient towns of Capernaum, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Tiberias. Only the city of Tiberias is still existing in the present day. What happened to the other three? In today’s Gospel of Matthew, Jesus made the prophecy that a greater tragedy would befall Chorazin and Bethsaida than what happened to Tyre and Sidon, and that Capernaum would suffer a fate worse than the city of Sodom. History records that in AD 400, a massive earthquake destroyed the three cities. Only the city of Tiberias was spared. Our Lord’s prophecy against Capernaum and the two unrepentant cities was thus fulfilled. Significantly, Jesus never uttered a word of judgment against the city of Tiberias. It is still standing today, and flourishing, after nearly 2,000 years.

Capernaum once enjoyed the honor of being the special place of Jesus’ ministry. He recruited many of His apostles there, like Peter, Andrew, James, John and Matthew. He performed many of His miracles in His adopted town, such as: the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law (Mt.8:14-15), the centurion’s servant (Mt.8:5-7), the paralytic (Mt.9:2,7), and the casting out of demons (Mk.1:23-27). It was also near this town that the miraculous feeding of the four thousand occurred (Mk.8:6-9). And yet, inspite of all the signs that Jesus performed in Capernaum, the people there remained impassive and unrepentant, and like what happened in Nazareth, they eventually began to resent and oppose Him. They saw the many great miracles, and heard Jesus’ words of truth and wisdom, but they refused to repent and believe. Thus, the people of Capernaum sealed their own fate, and like Sodom before it, as our Lord had predicted, it disappeared into the dustbin of history.

The fate of Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida serve as a historical lesson that the way of impenitence can only lead to physical and spiritual destruction. Even those that enjoy a special place in God’s heart will never last if they persist in their sins.

Thank You, dear God for making us realize the damnation we would face without repentance. May the most precious blood of Jesus wash away all our sins. Amen.

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