Mt 11:20-24 The City of God

Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)

Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented.

I couldn’t believe it.  I was getting a “call” on FaceTime from a family that is dear to me and is currently vacationing on a tropical paradise.  I answered the call and was greeted by smiles I could see and laughter that I could hear.  They were having the time of their lives.  Once everyone settled down, I asked them to show me around their exotic place.  They reversed their camera and I saw a beautiful blue ocean, an amazing blue sky, a gentle breeze, and a room full of windows and sunlight.  When they asked me where I was and what I was doing, I said to them, “Here, let me show you around.”  I reversed my camera and showed them the four walls surrounding my tiny office, the color of the walls being an uninspiring industrial yellow.  Next I showed them my tiny window high above my wall.  I pointed my phone upward for them to see the source of my light – a light bulb – and the cause of the breeze that was my fan.  While I was doing all these things, I went on Google, found a fish and showed them my background. 

We all had a good laugh.

Woe to you!  In today’s Gospel passage, the Lord speaks of cities that refused to repent after mighty deeds had been done.   He says to them, “Woe to you, Chorazin!  Woe to you, Bethsaida!  Woe to you, Capernaum!”  These were not some remote or distant towns or cities.  These were places just around the block.

Cities can be wonderful places of grace and culture.  But they can also be horrible places where vice and sin prevail.  Sin City.   

Cities are places were people can lose their roots, culture and identity, and easily get lost in the dark alleys and be forgotten. 

This morning I read an article about a rookie cop, Melvin Santiago, who was gunned down in an ambush in the streets of Jersey City.  The rookie was shot once in the head at point blank range.  The suspect, Lawrence Campbell, was killed in a gun fight with police.  Soon after, neighbors left written messages and candles at a makeshift memorial near the scene of the crime.  But instead of honoring the rookie, the memorial was for his killer.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading.  And as shocking as this was, what followed next just blew my mind:   

The suspect’s widow, Angelique Campbell, told News 12 New Jersey on Sunday that she was sorry for Santiago’s family but that her husband should have killed more officers if they were planning to kill him. She later apologized for the comments.

City life can turn us into thugs.  We can lose our minds and hearts when so much of humanity is crammed into artificially made tiny spaces.  What’s holy can appear to be silly, while broken institutions simply exacerbate the damage done to a young soul.  We all need to be aware of this. 

Life, as well as faith, can easily be turned upside down in the city.  There are countless bloggers who blog from the city and criticize everything that is Christian.  Do they not realize that Christian bloggers could do the same, and criticize everything that is not Christian, especially the senseless violence and the broken secular institutions?

The prophet Isaiah wrote:  “Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm.”  Lots of people living in the city are on shaky ground.

Isaiah spent his entire life trying to get back what was lost.  He is not alone, and the battle continues.   

Fr. Alfonse (1044 Posts)

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