Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Today’s readings feature one of the odder passages in the Old Testament. God has decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for the sins committed there, and Abraham pleads for God to show the cities mercy–several times, in fact. Each time, Abraham asks God to have mercy on the cities if he should find a certain number of righteous people there, and each time, God pledges that He will spare the cities if He finds that many righteous people. As this scene goes on, God indirectly reveals to Abraham (and us) the truth of the response to today’s Psalm: “The Lord is kind and merciful.” Time and again, Abraham goes to God, each time wary to do so. Time and again, God heeds Abrahams pleas for mercy. In fact, it is worth noting that God is not the one who puts a stop to the pleading, but Abraham. There is no indication that God would not have rebuked Abraham had he continued to plead to God.
This scene calls to mind a statement which Pope Francis made at his first Angelus: “God never tires of forgiving. It is we who tire of asking God’s forgiveness.” No matter how absurd Abraham thought his plea for mercy was, God was always ready to hear it, never expressing frustration or annoyance. This is a model and inspiration for us in our own lives. Fairly regularly, we are in need of asking for God’s mercy. In our liturgical life, we do so at the start of every Mass, and have an entire sacrament which revolves around our pleas for mercy to God. Often enough, in going to confession, we can feel like Abraham. We are aware of God’s goodness and our sinfulness, we know that we are asking almost the same thing as the last time, and we wonder if there is any point, whether we are “bothering” God with this. Today’s scene with Abraham reminds us that God will always listen, that there is always a point, and that we may always confess our sins and ask for His mercy.