“Examining our lives and making the necessary changes, in order to live a holier life!”
(Based on Isaiah 7:1-9 and Mt 11:20-24 – Tuesday of the 15th Week of Ordinary Time)
There is an incident in the life of Queen Victoria.
As a queen, she enjoyed many luxuries and comforts.
She too, however, had to go through many family problems, especially, concerns as a grandmother.
One of her grandsons was highly reckless in the usage and spending of money.
Once, as his birthday was approaching, the grandson wrote to his grandmother, Queen Victoria, reminding her of his approaching birthday.
He cleverly suggested that “money would be the best and the most acceptable birthday gift”.
In reply, the Queen Grandmother wrote back a “letter of advice”- in her own hand – sternly reproving the young boy for his life of extravagance and urging him on the practice of economy.
However, the young boy’s reply to this letter, staggered her:
“Dear Grandma,” said the letter, “thank you for your kind letter of advice.
I have just sold the same letter for five pounds!”
The young grandson spared no efforts to even “auction and sell” the prized ‘letter of advice’ of the Queen, and got for himself some extra money!!
The young fellow wasted away every chance that was offered to him, to live a good life.
Instead, the privileges that were offered to him were converted to opportunities for indulging in more and more occasions of sin!
The Gospel of the day presents Jesus condemning such an “unrepentant” and “arrogant” attitude of some cities, in amending their ways and in turning back to the Lord.
Jesus raises a cry of sigh, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done to you, had been in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long back” (Mt 11:21)
“And you, Capernaum! Will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades” (Mt 11: 23)
These three towns – Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum – had a unique common feature.
These three were called as the “Orthodox Triangle”.
These towns consisted of “traditional” Jews – Jews who took the Law of Moses very seriously!
• They had a benefit of a “faith that was traditional and deep-rooted”
These towns also consisted of “privileged” people – people who had the great privilege of being witnesses to many miracles, events, preaching and deeds of the Lord Jesus.
• They had the privilege of a “faith that was encouraged and boosted by the wonderful deeds of Jesus”
In spite of these great opportunities and advantages that were offered to them, the people in these towns “failed” to live a life of repentance!
And this is what the Lord condemns them for…
They had the benefit of a traditional faith…
… but it did not move their lives to be lived in holiness!
They had the privilege of a faith that was nourished and encouraged…
… but it did not make them to purge their lives of sin and seek to live worthily in the presence of God!
The people of these towns wasted away every chance that was offered to them, to live a good life.
Instead, the privileges that were offered to them were converted to occasions for indulging in more and more opportunities for sin!
Is my life also resembling these three towns?
I may be a “traditional” Christian…
… having ‘inherited’ my faith in the Lord from my family and my background
… having heard and even practising many acts of faith and devotion
I may also be an “encouraged” Christian…
… having got many opportunities to hear and witness the powerful works of the Lord through many talks, retreats, miracles, sacraments etc
… having the privilege of constantly encountering the living presence of the Lord in the lives of many people.
But do these factors get “personalized” and make me “to live a life of holiness and repentance”?
• I may boast that I am a Christian by birth
• I may claim that I am doing many great works in the ministry of the Lord
• I may assert that I have experienced many miraculous Divine interventions in life
But do all these make me to “repent” of my sins and help me seek to “live a life of sanctity”?
The message of the Gospel is clear: “Repent, and believe, in the Lord!”
The faith-inputs that I receive, ought to, first and foremost, cause a transformation in my life – seeking God’s Will at all times and remaining firm to avoid any occasions of sin.
Through Prophet Isaiah, God offers His assurance of strength and grace to us:
‘Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint…” (Is 7:4)
The Lord through today’s Gospel is writing a “letter of advice to us” – to examine our lives and to make the necessary changes, in order to live a holier life.
Are we going to take serious heed to this “letter of advice” and make suitable changes?
… or are we going to “auction and sell off” this “letter of advice” and nullify the loving message of the Gospel?
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS* – “This loving repentance is usually practiced by frequent aspirations or elevations of the Heart to God…