O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
send down upon your Church
the riches of your Spirit,
and kindle in all who minister the gospel
your countless gifts of grace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Great is the Lord and highly to be praised,
in the city of our God.
His holy mountain is fair and lifted high,
the joy of all the earth.
On Mount Zion, the divine dwelling place,
stands the city of the great king.
In her palaces God has shown himself
to be a sure refuge.
For behold, the kings of the earth assembled
and swept forward together.
They saw, and were dumbfounded;
dismayed, they fled in terror.
Trembling seized them there;
they writhed like a woman in labour,
as when the east wind shatters the ships of Tarshish.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus began to reproach the cities in which most of his deeds of power had been done, because they did not repent.
‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgement it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that on the day of judgement it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for you.’
At some point in all of our lives we have been guilty of knowing the right thing to do, of recognizing the right path to take, but going our own way regardless of that knowledge. Often we dress up our wilful stubbornness in clothes of self-justification, self-assurance and ‘principle’. But, if we can find the humility to step outside our pride we know, deep inside, that we are not being faithful to God.
Today’s reading begins with Jesus condemning towns that he had witnessed following the path of self-condemnation and self-destruction. Jesus had lived, taught and worked his deeds of power in Capernaum. The towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida were just a short journey from Capernaum. All the people Jesus condemns had actually seen Jesus, they had actually heard Jesus, they had witnessed at first hand his divine power at work, but what difference had it made? None at all as far as Jesus could see! Like many of us, they just carried on in their proud, greedy and condemnatory ways.
Can we not feel Jesus’ despair?
Or are we content that we know better?
Or, are we feeling sympathetic towards the towns condemned by Jesus?
Jesus’ words to the towns where he had walked, taught and healed should be seen as a sharp wake-up call to each of us. Throughout scripture we are told that the day will come when we will be judged for the way we have lived and the way we have used our God-given time, talents and treasure. Today Jesus is hammering that message home.
It is never too late to repent and follow the path God has prepared for us.
But … are we ready to face that challenge?
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God in confidence for the coming of the Kingdom.
Bless the Church with the spirit of true discipleship. Give grace to all Christian people to show in their lives the healing power of the gospel. Bring new labourers to hear the call and work for the harvest of the Lord.
We pray that all nations may know the peace that comes from above. Drive out the evil which brings strife between people, give light to the dark places and fill the world with knowledge of the truth.
Let our homes be as those which have been visited by the messengers of peace and love. Make us welcoming and hospitable, open to learn from any who come into our lives.
Grant healing to the sick in mind and body, and skill to those who care for them. Defend and strengthen all who have gone forth as missionaries to face opposition and danger.
We remember the departed who have laboured for good in this world. May their names be written in heaven and their joy be everlasting.
We pray in the name of Christ, by whose power evil is overcome.
Prayer for the week
O Saviour of the world,
lifted up on the cross to draw people
of all races and nations to yourself:
bless the witness of your Church
in this and every place,
and help us to finish the work
you have given us to do
in the world for which you died.
We ask it in your name,
our living and victorious Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore.