In the past few months, depending on where we live, we have been warned and cautioned to prepare for life-threatening storms and impending destruction. And in some places, disaster has come without warning, shaking the very ground of people's existence. Warnings are helpful. Yet often, unless they are direct, firm, and even stern, we can miss and fail to heed them.
Today's Gospel passage is a difficult one to read, filled with the language of prophetic warning and judgment. It seems foreign and remote. Even as I read it, I find myself skimming; how do Jesus' words apply to my daily life? I notice in me a very human tendency to avoid His harsher pronouncements and prefer His softer, more tender words. But I’m reminded of 2 Timothy 3:16: "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, training in righteousness."
So, like it or not, these ancient words are also intended for me. The unusually harsh words of judgment reflect God's love for us, and His desire that none of us perish. So, what do we have in common with the three Galilean towns to which Jesus announces doom? (Luke 10:13-16)
Jesus visited these places, and they witnessed His words and deeds. He proclaimed the Kingdom and worked miracles. They saw, heard, and touched the Messiah in person and yet many were unresponsive and refused His offer of the Kingdom of God. Christ is also truly present to us in the Church, the Eucharist, and in the living Word of God. Am I open and receptive to Christ’s presence as He comes to me daily, and am I responding to this fullness of grace and truth with faith and zeal?
This isn't just an account of some towns that didn't get it right. These are the words of a loving God who wants to remind us that we have been given everything in Christ and to shake us from any complacency or hardness of heart.
Lord, thank You for your warning, which in Your love is intended to bring me safely home to you in Heaven. Come to our towns and countries, our families and our homes, and help us to welcome Your kingdom into our lives.
Debra Herbeck, a Jewish convert to the Church, has worked extensively in youth and women’s ministry. She has directed Pine Hills Girls Camp for the past 32 years, is the founder and Director of the Be Love Revolution, and also helps lead a ministry called i.d.916. She has written a number of books that can be found here. Debra and her husband Peter live in Ann Arbor, Michigan and are the parents of four children and five adorable grandchildren.