|Jesus began to reproach the towns. (MT 11:20)
The feeling of being corrected (or called out, or challenged) for something we have done (or not done) is not a good feeling. Whether by a parent, sibling, friend, boss or stranger, it is something that can evoke defensiveness in us. To think that I was out of line… The nerve of that person to correct ME…
In today’s readings, we see Moses reproaching a Hebrew and Jesus reproaching the towns of Chorazin and Bethsaida. In the former case, Moses encounters just this sort of defensiveness in the response of the Hebrew culprit. The Gospel reading does not indicate a response from those whom Jesus was addressing but we can perhaps imagine it.
Rather than focusing on the one doing the reproaching, what does our response reveal about ourselves?
Understanding that someone’s correction does not, in itself, prove our wrongdoing (indeed, maybe it is our very righteousness that has elicited reproachment), our conscience does have a way of cutting through that brush, clearing the way for us to honestly evaluate our words and deeds. Our conscience is quick to catch up to us and the hardest to outrun. When this occurs, whatever our emotions in the moment, we owe it to ourselves to step back and reflect on what has happened and what elicited the correction. This can be a humbling exercise, but Jesus calls us to just this humility. He calls us to union with him. That is our end and we have been equipped with the means to seek it and, with the grace of God, achieve it.