Sunday, July 28, 2013
The light of faith must shine in our country: 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Billy Graham once quipped—“If God doesn’t judge America He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”
Today we enter into the detailed dialogue between God and Abraham. God was on the brink of destroying Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness—inhospitality and the desire to abuse. Abraham intercedes for these people, “chipping away” at God’s plan until they agree that if ten righteous people were found in these cities, they would be spared. The end of the story, though, is that Sodom and Gomorrah were in fact destroyed. This implies that there were not ten righteous men and women in these cities.
Our country—the United States—has many similarities with Sodom and Gomorrah. We live in a society in which our human sexuality has been brutalized over the past few decades. Sodom and Gomorrah did not have a multi-billion dollar pornography business. Nor did they have sexting. Infidelity in our country is far too common, as is cohabitation, contraception and the like. Our culture has even lost its sense of what marriage is. Added to this, we live in a country which supports abortion that kills many innocent unborn babies each day. Materialism, individualism and relativism are the norm.
Now I am not asking God to smite us with sulfer from heaven, or point fingers, but this reading from Genesis begs the question—are there ten righteous people in our country? Are there ten righteous people at St. John’s?
I hope so. I hope we are of the ten. We must be of the ten in order to save our society!
In dark times like this, we must be guided by the light of faith. Indeed, Pope Francis has providentially given us his first encyclical called by this very title—Lumen Fidei—light of faith. I encourage you to read it as it is nothing short of God’s inspiration for us. In it, our Holy Father writes, “Our culture has lost its sense of God’s tangible presence and activity in our world. We think that God is to be found in the beyond, on another level of reality, far removed from our everyday relationships. But if this were the case, if God could not act in the world, his love would not be truly powerful, truly real, and thus not even true, a love capable of delivering the bliss that it promises. It would make no difference at all whether we believed in him or not. Christians, on the contrary, profess their faith in God’s tangible and powerful love which really does act in history and determines its final destiny: a love that can be encountered, a love fully revealed in Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.”
We can gaze on another light of faith occurring in our world today. As we celebrate Mass in Duluth, Minnesota, Pope Francis is celebrating Mass with three million young people from around the world in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. They are gathered to celebrate the faith throughout World Youth Day. Earlier this week, Pope Francis encouraged the young people: “In the face of those moments of discouragement we experience in life, in our efforts to evangelize or to embody our faith as parents within the family, I would like to say forcefully: Always know in your heart that God is by your side; he never abandons you! Let us never lose hope! Let us never allow it to die in our hearts!”
God is near us. You have been “buried with [Christ] in Baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God…” You can trust in God! You can trust in His sacraments! You can trust in His Church and in her teachings! The same God with Whom Abraham pleas says in our Gospel, “…ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Ask. Seek. Knock. Pray that God may give you the courage and confidence to be near Him. Ask, seek and knock that you may be one of the ten righteous. Pray that your family, friends and coworkers may be as well. Be one of the ten and reflect the light of faith to our world.