Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which he had performed most of his miracles, because the people there did not change their ways. “Alas for you Chorazin and Bethsaida! If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I assure you, for Tyre and Sidon; it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to heaven? You will be thrown down to the place of the dead! For if the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be there today! But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
In the gospel the relationship between faith and miracles, miracles and faith is a complex one. Maybe we could say two things in this connection.
The first thing is that, ideally speaking, a strong faith produces miracles. That is why we often see Jesus asking people before he performs a miracle, “Do you believe that I can do this?” (Mt 9:28) or “as you have believed, let this be done to you” (Mt 8:13; 9:29) or affirming “your faith saved you” (Mt 19:22; Lk 17:19).
The second thing to be said is that, after a miracle has been performed, the person of good will should believe on the strength of the miracle itself. This idea is often found in John’s gospel. For example, Jesus says to his skeptical critics, referring to his miracles as “works”: “If you do not believe me, (at least) believe the works” (Jn 10:18).
And in today’s gospel reading we hear Jesus using the same reasoning: since he performed so many miracles in Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, they should have believed in him, at least because of those miracles.
How strong is our own faith in Jesus? Could our faith produce a miracle? Do we need miracles to believe in him?
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