Memorial of Saint Jerome, priest
(Baruch 1:15-22; Luke 10:13-16)
In 1863 Abraham Lincoln signed a bill declaring a “day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer.” America was experiencing the blight of civil war and rightly held itself responsible. “We have forgotten God,” the bill declared, and also “we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace.” Such a public call to repentance would never be made today. But it is exactly what Jesus expects in today’s gospel.
Chorazain, Bethsaida, and Capernaum – these are not notoriously bad cities. There sin is likely a malaise that prevents them from noticing that the Messiah stands in their midst. Rather than repent, they carry on business as usual. Jesus declares that they have missed their opportunity, that their train left the station, that they will be left in oblivion.
Just because our nation may never repent does not mean that individuals or groups should not. We do offend God and should ask pardon and do penance. While we are at it, let us go beyond the superficial. We get angry ourselves and make others angry, but these are hardly the worse of our sins. More grievously, we lie, lust, and ridicule. We ignore the needs of others while we forever grasp at what our hearts desire.