Gospel from Tuesday of the 15th week
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! And as for you, Capernaum …
If you travel to northern Israel today, to the Sea of Galilee, you can view the ancient ruins of the once vibrant village of Capernaum where Jesus chose to live for a period of his public ministry. Given the words of Jesus regarding Sodom, one has to wonder if Capernaum would still be there today had it repented at the proclamation of the Gospel. Jesus seems to indicate that Sodom would have repented had it been privileged, like Corazin, Bethsaida, and above Capernaum, to witness the mighty deeds Jesus performed in the midst of these three Galilean villages. And remember that Sodom is renowned for its perversion, and yet Jesus said that it would still be here today, suggesting that the depraved sinners of Sodom would have repented had they witnessed what the citizens of these three villages witnessed for several years, the mighty works of God, something like Nineveh at the preaching of Jonah.
It’s odd, when you think about it, that Jesus seems to suggest that not only individuals will be subject to the final judgment, but even corporate entities like these villages. At that great and awful judgment, it will be made manifest how these corporate realities behaved in relationship to the kingdom of God, whether they impeded its growth or they contributed to its growth. In some real but mysterious sense, these corporate realities will either be “exalted to heaven” or “will go down to the netherworld.” Just as the stars and planets with their moons will be part of that final glory given to God, so it seems that the corporate entities created by man will either make their contribution to that glory, certainly not as they exist in time, or they will be cast into the darkness reduced to nothingness, just a memory in the netherworld.
All this naturally leads me to the question, how does this apply to America, to our great cities, villages and towns? Is America in need of repentance today as was Capernaum in the time of Jesus? Certainly, we have not been privileged to witness the mighty works of God in the visible way they were done in Capernaum. But we have been privileged in many ways, blessed with certain freedoms, important freedoms, and with a prosperity that at least matches that of any great civilization and surpasses most all of them. But Jesus said that to whom much has been given, much will be demanded by God. America has never been a confessional state, and therefore it was not able to make the kind of contribution to the kingdom of God found in certain historical Christian states. But nonetheless, the freedom and offered, up till now, for the practice of religion has made a certain contribution by allowing individuals and religious bodies to make their own contribution to the kingdom of God.
Nonetheless, the state itself was unable to do this of itself, by its policies, for it was officially neutral when it came to religion, and that was ultimately the seed of a serious problem. For the first century and a half plus, from its creation until the second half of the 20th century, this state neutrality posed no serious problem since the Protestant ethic and Catholic morality were in agreement on most important questions. But then came the breakdown of this consensus in the 20th century, beginning with contraception and abortion, and now moving on to the issues of euthanasia and homosexual marriages. None of these things were acceptable to either Protestants or Catholics until the great sexual revolution of the mid-20th century. Today that neutrality of the state means a neutrality between good and evil, darkness and light, the natural law and perversion, and it cannot last. No society can survive that does not have a common ethic or morality. And today the three branches of government are contributing to the rapid breakdown of any moral consensus in this great country.
America is in crisis. Does it need to repent like those privileged villages in Galilee. You bet it does. Otherwise it’ll be cast down to the netherworld.
Categories: Weekday reflections