Disarming The Autopilot
“Will you be exalted to heaven?”
Sometimes we might seem to live our faith almost on autopilot. It’s not that we don’t believe. We know we possess faith because we received that gift at Baptism. Our faith is evident because we faithfully attend Mass each Sunday. However, how have we assimilated faith into life? Is it obvious in our daily life? Today’s Gospel helps us reflect on these questions. God is disappointed with the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida. Why? In both towns, Jesus had performed signs and probably miracles, yet the inhabitants failed to accept his Gospel message. “Woe to you,” Jesus warns them for squandering a gift. If the cities of Tyre and Sidon, both notorious through Jewish history for their sinfulness, had heard Christ’s preaching and witnessed his signs, they would have repented. Jesus is saying, in a sense, that it is better to be wicked and know it, than to be so unaware, so unconcerned with spiritual things that not even the presence and activity of the Son of Man make any difference in your life. The wicked would at least be startled into a reaction when coming face-to-face with pure goodness. They are intense and alert, up to the challenge. Jesus would not approve of their ways, but he would rejoice at their openness to change. The people who most disappoint Jesus are the uninvolved, the lukewarm. Religion is not even an issue for them. There is nothing to discuss. Signs and wonders, if noticed, are passed off as “interesting.”
Lastly, Jesus rebukes the people of his own hometown, Capernaum. To them he is an upstart, someone pretending to be important. They refuse to even consider his claims. Do we take the words of Jesus seriously? Do we apply what he says to our lives? Are we spiritual minimalists? Are we doing no more than is our duty, like attending Sunday Mass, sending our children for instruction, reciting an occasional prayer? How about a sense that we have been baptized into Christ? Faith is who we are!
Dear Lord, not one of us likes to hear your displeasure even when we merit a correction. But preserve us from the sins of indifference, smugness, and pride. These attitudes cause the soul to turn away from grace. You are ever prepared to gift us with understanding, desire, and fervor on our spiritual journey. Keep us open and eager to recognize the signs of your presence in our lives. Amen.
Speak to us, Lord. We are listening.
Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 18–34: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 164–165). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.