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Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Ex. 2:1-15 & Mt. 11:20-24

God had a plan for the Hebrews. They were to be freed from the tyranny of Pharaoh and their leader was to be Moses. Pharaoh wanted to destroy the Hebrew race and he had decreed that all male babies born to Hebrew mothers were to be put to death. Moses escaped this edict because his mother took a risk, trusting that somehow her son would be saved. This is where God stepped in and softened the heart of Pharaoh's daughter. She could have reported the incident to her father but she chose to protect the boy and see that he would be given a royal upbringing. In this way God's plan for Moses was fulfilled.

Does God have a plan for everybody? Of course He does. We may not be called to be leaders, like Moses, but we all have a place in His scheme. What thwarts His plan is our freewill. There are times when we oppose God's will and stray from the path He has laid down for us but He has ways of guiding us back. He never takes away our freedom of choice, but He often gives us a nudge in the right direction! Day by day He is at work, adapting to circumstances, redirecting us, overcoming obstacles. At the time we may not recognise His hand, but on prayerful reflection afterwards we might see how God was unfolding His plan in our lives.

Like the mother of Moses, we must trust in God even when we cannot see where our actions are leading. Blessed John Henry Newman expressed this thought “God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told in the next.”

In today’s Gospel Jesus' words appear harsh but they arose out of the deep compassion He had for God’s chosen people. Although He had brought the message of salvation with teaching and miracles of healing to the towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida, they had rejected Him and gone their own way. Tyre and Sidon were rich Phoenician maritime trading cities which Jesus visited later. Despite the fact that they were proud pagan cities, Jesus laments that had He taught and worked miracles among them they would have repented and changed their ways.

But the most poignant rejection was that of Capernaum, His home town during His ministry. It was in and around Capernaum that He performed some of His greatest miracles of healing and yet the people would not accept His teaching and repent. He compares the spiritual condition of that town unfavourably with Sodom, a byword in Jesus’ time for the worst kinds of godless behaviour, perversion and evil.

The central message of Jesus’ teaching in the Jewish towns was the need for deep repentance. That message was uncompromising. The need is just as urgent for us today. Now is the time to examine our lives, look at our own sins, and repent. Like the Jewish towns we have experienced so much of the goodness of the Lord, and like them we can be ungrateful, forgetful and continue to tolerate particular sins in our lives.

Our repentance needs to go further than regret. Repentance is a gift of God. It is acknowledging that we have done wrong and we are sorry for what we have done. Our sins reveal that the direction of our lives is not always in conformity with God’s loving will for us.

Holy Spirit, we need this change of heart and mind in order to move towards God. Let us learn to acknowledge our sins, confess them in Confession, make a firm purpose of amendment and thank God for His forgiveness.

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