June 27, 2011

Encouragement From Sodom

Today's first reading, Genesis 18:16-33, in which Abraham haggles with God for the sparing of Sodom, is one of my favorites in the daily Mass lectionary. I find it very encouraging and inspiring. I'll explain.

Even though we know that things didn't really work out for Sodom, it doesn't change the fact that God was willing to spare the whole city for the sake of ten innocent people, having been haggled down from fifty. I find this encouraging because it suggests that even though I'm a lukewarm religious and barely repentant for my sins, I could still be saved for the sake of the saints around in my in my friary, neighborhood, and world.

This means that it is in my best interest to help other people become saints, especially if it's not going so well for me. After all, it is the highest charity to assist others in coming to holiness, and this is what religious communities are meant to be at the most basic level: mutual associations for the sake of common and individual holiness.

God's oaths on the sparing of Sodom reveal that such charity, the giving of self for the sake of the holiness of others, is not just altruism. It is in my self-interest to give myself away for the sake of others arriving at holiness, because it may be because of their sanctity that a sinner and tepid religious like me could also come to salvation.


Anonymous said...

Wow...that's thought provoking. Thank you for this post!

Sarah said...

Yes, very though-provoking post. I love the image of Abraham sidling up close to the Lord in order to haggle. It bespeaks a confidence and intimacy with God that is truly beautiful.

Sara said...

Fr. Charles, I love it too. This is one of the first stories I remember being told as a child. To me it is a story about formation- in many ways.

Lee Gilbert said...

A similar viewpoint from an Hasidic Cumash-

"Since Abraham excelled in the attribute of kindness, it seems somewhat surprising to find that he 'spoke harshly' with God, arguing aggressively for the salvation of Sodom.

"This teaches us that when faced with the task of saving another's life, a person may be required to overcome his natural disposition and personality and take radical action. Thus Abraham, whose nature was only to be kind and polite, managed to gather the courage to act in a manner of harshness and severity, in an attempt to save lives.

"This also applies to the spiritual life of our fellow Jew. If one sees another Jew 'drowning' spiritually, due to a lack of Jewish education, one should make every effort to help him- even if this entails an act which is out of cahracter with one's personality."

Arlen Harris said...

Dear Fr. Charles,
Thank you for your blog. I, too, appreciate this reading about Abraham. I preached about it this afternoon at Mass, at one point drawing a comparison between him and the Blessed Virgin Mary. (I spoke about Mary because of today's optional memorial of St. Cyril of Alexandria.) The basic point was that, just as Abraham, "our father in faith" prayed for the people then, so too does Mary, "our mother in the faith" pray "for us sinners now and at the hour of death". Thanks again for your blog.

Greg said...

Thank you for the humble viewpoint from which I learn so much about Francis and how he viewed the world.

When I read your blog, I feel like I have opened another page in the three volume set "Francis of Assisi: The Early Documents."