We are familiar with the age-old conundrum: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? But for our consideration today in light of the scripture readings: Which comes first? Do people of faith see miracles? Or do miracles bring people to faith? Probably both, because faith is both God’s gift to us and our response to God’s invitation.
So Ahaz in today’s reading from Isaiah is making preparations to battle the kings of Aram and Israel by allying himself to the king of Assyria. The prophet Isaiah confronts the king, who is concerned about his survival and that of his people, as well as his royal line. He had previously led Israel by his example into the worship of false gods and the disregard of the covenant. He even sacrificed his own son at the foundation of one of the city gates. So Isaiah takes his own son to confront the king, as a sign of God’s favor for those who trust him. A few verses from this reading, Isaiah utters the prophecy we hear often in Advent and Christmas: “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and name him Immanuel.” This passage refers to Ahaz’s successor Hezekiah, who was actually a good king.
Jesus reproaches the cities (villages) of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum along the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee that reveled in their prosperity and refused to repent after his mighty deeds were done in them. He refers to three gentile towns, Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom, that did not fare well because of their arrogance and sinfulness. It is tempting in our prosperity to believe it is all of our making. It is helpful to put trust in God in both prosperity and want. Certainly we need to attend to the business of living, taking care of our needs and those of our loved ones, prospering the secular economy, etc. But we need to be mindful that God is present and active in our lives and in the world. Everything else will rise and fall with political, economic, and popular forces. God alone is constant and unchanging.
From St. Thomas Aquinas: “For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don’t, no proof is possible.”
We offered this mass for the repose of +Donna Joswick.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020