17th Sunday Ordinary Time
July 24, 2016
Today’s first reading is one of the most intriguing in the entire Old Testament. Abraham is having a conversation with the Lord as he visits the ancient city of Sodom on the Dead Sea (Genesis 18:20-32). Scholars have long been intrigued the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and here the Lord God discloses to Abraham his intention to destroy the city for its wickedness. Intriguingly, Abraham intercedes with the Lord over and over again in an attempt to save this town from the ruin they deserve, and the Lord listens to the prayers of Abraham!
At the end of this long story, we discover that the Lord will listen to Abraham and spare Sodom if only there can be found ten righteous people dwelling within it. Think of it: only ten.
This story has such profound implications for our modern world. So often I have wondered what on earth has kept us from destroying ourselves up to now? We live in a time when weapons of mass destruction are readily available and old hatreds among nations are as strong as ever. Terrorism is an item on the daily news. Who or what will save us from the world we have created for ourselves and the forces of nature so far beyond our control?
The answer is a surprising one indeed. We are not saved, in fact, by our military, nor by our economy, nor by our intelligence, nor by our technology! No, the shocking truth is that the world has been saved because of the hidden, righteous people dwelling within it. These people seem to the powerful to be of no importance, their lives of no consequence; yet they literally keep the world from destroying itself, because they are the friends of God, and for their sake, he
keeps the world from being destroyed! Only on the last day will the world learn how many times God has intervened to save us from ourselves, and how great was the role of the friends of God.
These friends of God accept their crosses with love as a sacrifice for others (like Jesus). They have the courage to be known as friends of Christ in a world that does not love him. They are the friends of God because, while not perfect, they try to love him by keeping his commandments. The Lord is looking for a few good friends to help him save the world. Will you be one of them?