In those days, the LORD said:
"The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great,
and their sin so grave,
that I must go down and see whether or not their actions
fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me.
I mean to find out."
While Abraham's visitors
walked on farther toward Sodom,
the LORD remained standing before Abraham.
Then Abraham drew nearer and said:
"Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty?
Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city;
would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it
for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it?
Far be it from you to do such a thing,
to make the innocent die with the guilty
so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike!
Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?"
The LORD replied,
"If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom,
I will spare the whole place for their sake."
Abraham spoke up again:
"See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord,
though I am but dust and ashes!
What if there are five less than fifty innocent people?
Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?"
He answered, "I will not destroy it, if I find forty-five there."
But Abraham persisted, saying "What if only forty are found there?"
He replied, "I will forbear doing it for the sake of the forty."
Then Abraham said, "Let not my Lord grow impatient if I go on.
What if only thirty are found there?"
He replied, "I will forbear doing it if I can find but thirty there."
Still Abraham went on,
"Since I have thus dared to speak to my Lord,
what if there are no more than twenty?"
The LORD answered, "I will not destroy it, for the sake of the twenty."
But he still persisted:
"Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time.
What if there are at least ten there?"
He replied, "For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it."
(3a) Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me. I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple
and give thanks to your name. R. Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me. Because of your kindness and your truth;
for you have made great above all things
your name and your promise.
When I called you answered me;
you built up strength within me. R. Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me. The LORD is exalted, yet the lowly he sees,
and the proud he knows from afar.
Though I walk amid distress, you preserve me;
against the anger of my enemies you raise your hand. R. Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me. Your right hand saves me.
The LORD will complete what he has done for me;
your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands. R. Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.
Brothers and sisters:
You were buried with him in baptism,
in which you were also raised with him
through faith in the power of God,
who raised him from the dead.
And even when you were dead
in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
he brought you to life along with him,
having forgiven us all our transgressions;
obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims,
which was opposed to us,
he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross.
Jesus was praying
in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
"Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples."
He said to them, "When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test."
And he said to
them, "Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,'
and he says in reply from within,
'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.'
I tell you,
if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.
"And I tell you,
ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"
They saw him praying. There
must have been something very special about his prayer. That’s why they asked
him: “Teach us how to pray. Teach us to pray as you are doing it.” You read
the answer in this gospel message. There is more to his answer than just saying
"Our Father". The gospels speak about Jesus praying, but they do not mention all
his prayers. They mention that he went to participate in the Passover feast at
Jerusalem; they never speak about his participation in the liturgical prayers
there. We are told that while he lived in Nazareth, he went to the synagogue
every Sabbath day, but there is no mention of his prayers in that synagogue. We
hear how he lived very piously in the circle of his family, but there is no
trace of his family prayers. What is mentioned is special, personal; He went
to the desert and the mountain tops to pray.
We are told that he said;
“Enter into your inner room as you pray to the Father, who is there hidden.”
Most folks probably think he meant their bedroom. Sounds reasonable doesn’t
it. But, what if Jesus was talking about the inner room of our hearts?
We were warned by him: “Don't
pray as the Pharisees, who pray in public to be seen by all.” Another
characteristic is his reservedness in his prayers. He refuses to invoke
the power of God, as we so often do when in difficulty or need. When a soldier
hurt him in front of the approving high priests, he responded by saying, “Don’t
you realize that I could call on my Father for help, and that he would send me more than twelve armies of angels to defend me?” But he doesn’t do it, not
even when he is caught in such difficulties and harassment that he has to shout
out in anguish, “My God, my God, why did you forsake me?” Why didn’t he pray as
all of us would be tempted to pray, as so many of them had prayed in the
Bible? “Bash their heads; let their children perish; make their women
infertile; let the hills and the mountains fall over them.”
Was that the
reason we don’t hear anything about him joining the old prayers in their temple
Jesus was sure that God would
have helped him. He was sure that God would have interfered with power and
might against those who used power against him. He did not ask for that type of
violence. On the contrary, he asked God not to use power. He said, “Father,
please don’t look. They don’t know what they are doing.”
possibly facing the hardest times in this country since the Great Depression:
people loosing jobs, foreclosures on homes, government spending gone out of
control, people living in fear of a dismal future for their grandchildren, moral
decay looms about, violence facing each new day, and Christians under attack for
their beliefs, and some Christian churches watering down to appease political
correctness of elements of society that far from being Christ like, an election
year, terrorism throughout the world, division all accross America, and it goes
on and on.
Knowing that this is a reality that we face in this day and time, we might do
well to reflect on this fact: “How could the circle of violence and power,
and moral submission that Jesus came to break, ever be broken if he used the
violence of his Father’s power? That dear friends is what he taught them when
he said: When you pray, say: “Our Father.” Not the Father of me and my
group, but our Father, who can’t be turned against anyone. Give us
bread, all of us, not just some, but all. Help us to forgive, not using
violent revenge, but the forgiveness that liberated us from the past as we
forgive. Lead us no longer in temptation to do otherwise.
Now lets be honest. How
difficult is it for us, given the circumstances of the possible plight of this
country being destroyed by a power and controlling seeking government, to pray as Jesus taught
us? Do we not wish to pray for God to intercede on our behalf with His great
power? It’s not going to happen folks. We must pray as Jesus taught us to and
to trust that praying that way will be all that is needed for us and our
country. And herein lies our hope. It is in the first reading for today, when
Abraham, referring to the city of Sodom, ask God,
“"Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time.
What if there are at least ten innocent people there?"
He replied, "For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it."
May the peace and the love of our Lord Jesus Christ be
with us all. May you have a blessed week ahead and be grace with good health
for you and your families. Yours in Christ –