“'But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.’” (Matthew 11:24)
Yikes. Do y’all remember what happened to Sodom? It wasn’t pretty. (Genesis 19)
In this reading, we have Jesus speaking to Capernaum. It's Saint Peter's hometown, a place we hear of multiple times in Scripture, and a place where Christ heals the centurion's slave. (Luke 7:1-10) And He is telling this community that their fate is currently worse than Sodom’s? Talk about a reality check.
It can be tempting to look at this passage with a sense of superiority. I mean, come on, Bethsaida, get it together! But I am struck by the arrogance in this thinking that surely had I seen the “mighty deeds” the Gospel mentions, I would immediately repent and change my ways. Just as I’m certain that had I been Peter, no matter how frightened I was, I would never have denied Christ. Or if I were Thomas, even if I had violently lost one of my dearest friends, I would not need to feel the wound in His side to know He had risen.
The Gospels are saturated with examples of Christ’s mighty deeds. The blind can see (John 9:1-12), the paralyzed can walk (Matthew 9:1-8), a child pronounced dead is awakened (Mark 5:21-43), and Jesus defeats death. (Luke 24:1-12) But have these truths taken hold of my heart? Am I doing all that I can to live a life that glorifies God? Do I let my faith in the Resurrection, the mightiest deed of all, move me to action?
And if the reality of the Resurrection has not moved me to act, how can I possibly think that I’m any different from those towns in today’s Gospel, and what does that mean for my soul on the day of judgment?
So sisters, I invite you to join me in asking forgiveness for all of those times we have failed to let Christ’s radical love overflow from our hearts and into our lives. Let us beg forgiveness for every instance we’ve failed to be the face of Jesus to others. And let us trust in God’s mercy and compassion as we seek to actively live out our faith.
Sarah Stanley is a small town Ohio girl who is mildly obsessed with all things Ignatian and is very passionate about faith, social justice, and the intersection of the two. She recently earned her Master of Divinity and now serves as the Director of Christian Service at a high school in New England. When she’s not working, she enjoys contagious laughter, travel, clever puns, and finding the good in all things. You can find out more about her here.