Reconciliation Lectionary: Genesis 18:17-33

mary-the-penitent.jpgThis weekend at Mass, Abraham bargains with the Lord of the Universe. God is singularly unimpressed with the sinfulness of Sodom. This reading also happens to appear as a possible choice for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. What would be your thoughts as to why?

The verses you hear this weekend will be 20-32. If you’re at confession, maybe you’ll get a brief introduction to this passage (verses 17-19) in which God considers keeping his own counsel, but ultimately confides in Abraham:

The Lord considered: Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, now that he is to become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth are to find blessing in him? Indeed, I have singled him out that he may direct his children and his household in the future to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord may put into effect for Abraham the promises he made about him.

I wonder about this insight into the mind of God, and what it might mean for the penitent. The Torah tells us that Sodom is a bad example, Abraham is a good one. And good Jews are supposed to learn from that. Christians too.

What I notice from the patriarch is a special concern for the virtuous. Also, a bit of a guilt trip on God, after asking about fifty theoretically innocent people:

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!

Abraham grovels appropriately, but persists:

“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?

This continues, and God’s decision is to evacuate the only innocent people: Lot and his family. You can read chapters 18-19 in their entirety to get the full story. Funny thing is that Lot’s wife looks back to turn into a salt monument and their daughters aren’t exactly the paragons of virtue in exile.

God indeed seems very lenient. Which is a good message for a believer. Can we bargain away the consequences of sin? That’s sort of the whole point to this sacrament. We present a list of ways we’ve transgressed virtue, and we petition for mercy. The difference is that we freely concede how we’ve sinned. As heirs of Abraham we are “to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.”

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to Reconciliation Lectionary: Genesis 18:17-33

  1. Pingback: “No Life Is Destroyed” | Catholic Sensibility

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