Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 378

As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, “On your way!
Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here,
or you will be swept away in the punishment of Sodom.”
When he hesitated, the men, by the LORD’s mercy,
seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city.
As soon as they had been brought outside, he was told: “Flee for your life!

I have been reading Rick Atkinsons’ history of World War II and this story from the Book of Genesis has a familiar ring. War has descended on the Cities of the Plain and its timing is urgent. The 25th verse especially describes the warfare of God against evil:
He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil.
Sodom, Gomorrah and the Cities of the Plain are no country for old men, but Job and his wife are old people. They cannot adjust to the new reality: he cannot flee to the hills and she cannot leave a way of life. As often happens in chaotic situations, one is taken, the other is spared, without rhyme or reason.

“…by the Lord’s mercy” is the order of the day. Whether it’s a tornado, an earthquake or the sweep of an army some will survive by the Lord’s mercy and others will perish. Is there some reason for this madness, some guiding but indecipherable principle?

There’s a lesson in this story. Terrible things happen in our world and no one knows how they’ll react to it. If the doctors tells me I have days to weeks to live, will I be upset or calm? Will I complain that God has abandoned me or will I take shelter in his wings? Will I hope or will I despair?

Sometimes, as their security crumbles like a house of cards people complain, “I thought my faith was strong!” But it’s not for us to judge our faith. Perhaps they thought faithful people are never disappointed, disheartened or discouraged. They thought saints smile like clueless imbeciles all the time. Their images of saints are taken from stained glass windows whose expressions never change, whose faces remain serene in the bright sunshine and darkest night. But real saints have human emotions even as they grow from grace to grace. They feel anguish, sorrow and fear and, when those feelings have run their course, still wait on the Lord’s mercy.

Abraham, the friend of God and our father in faith, must have wondered what was happening to his life as he watched “smoke over the land rising like the smoke from a kiln.” Who was this God who had confided in him and named him friend? Was he good or evil? He was certainly powerful. Would he use or abuse the son he had promised to Abraham and Sarah? If all the nations of the earth were to find blessings in his descendants what price would they pay for the privilege?

Sometimes we think we know the future. It is “all this and heaven too!” And sometimes we’re not so sure.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.