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July 17, 2018: Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time [II]

Reading Isaiah 7:1-9
Gospel Matthew 11:20-24

“‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the nether world.’”

“Teddy Bear Jesus” remains one of the more persistent myths within lands that are culturally Catholic (as distinguished from those that are Catholic by personal conviction, sweat, and blood). This mythic figure became flesh and dwelt among us to tell us how wonderful we are, and that we just need to have more self-esteem. As popular as this myth is within so much of the modern Western world, it has no basis in the New Testament. Today’s Gospel passage offers a helpful antidote.

In your hand missal, the two sentences that Jesus addresses to Capernaum may be printed in italics, drawing attention to the fact that they are a quotation from the Old Testament. Specifically, Jesus here is quoting a very “un-teddy-bear-like” passage from the fourteenth chapter of the Prophet Isaiah.

What has prompted Jesus in today’s Gospel passage to thunder tides of woe against the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum? Here is the more specific point for our reflection today: failure to repent.

Jesus has been preaching repentance because it’s a prerequisite for accepting the good news of the Gospel. No Christian should think that he doesn’t need to repent because he’s already been baptized, accepted the Gospel, and been saved. The gift of salvation first given in the Sacrament of Baptism certainly can be lost. But most importantly, we should remember that the motive for Jesus’ reproaches is the same as the motive for His carrying the Cross: love for each of us.