Let us be generous
SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
July 24, 2022
Though all-knowing, once again the LORD “must go down and see” before pronouncing judgment (Genesis 18:21). As in the garden of Eden or at Babel, God comes to the scene to determine the sinfulness of the people. Then we learn how willing God is to exercise mercy. By the time this was written, Sodom and Gomorrah were well known as cities that were suddenly and completely destroyed in a natural event precipitated by God’s wrath. Tradition varied as to the nature of the sinfulness that incurred God’s punishment, but this account does not concentrate on the sin . . . or on the destruction. Its focus is God’s mercy. God’s mercy is so generous that if even a handful of innocent people lived there, entire cities of thousands would have been spared. Last Sunday we heard readings that extolled the value of hospitality. Abraham ran out of his tent to insist that three traveling strangers stop to rest and eat. Martha and Mary welcomed Jesus into their home and their lives. Hospitality was rewarded in both cases. On the other hand, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were known for their arrogance and hostility toward strangers and travelers. Centuries later, Ezekiel wrote that they had been “proud, sated with food, complacent in their prosperity, and they gave no help to the poor and needy” (Ezekiel 16:49). Sodom and Gomorrah were large cities, and even today large cities often develop a reputation for inhospitality. Abraham argued in hopes that at least a few people could be found who were generous to outsiders. Abraham’s conversation with God doesn’t exactly sound like a prayer, but it is in fact a prayer of petition, a persistent plea for God’s mercy. In the Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray, also encouraging them to make a prayer of petition, pleading for food each day and for mercy for their sins. Let us in turn be generous with our belongings and with our forgiveness. Amen. (Casey, Most Reverend Robert G. Pastoral Patterns. World Library Publication, 2022)
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