Day 9: Sodom and Gomorrah
Genesis 18:1-15 The mysterious visitors who announced that Sarah would bear a child prefigure the Annunciation made by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary (WOW!!!! TYPOLOGY!!!!). What is not possible from a human perspective-Sarah was barren and beyond the age of childbearing-can become reality through THE POWER OF GOD. Sarah is seen as a precursor of Mary since they boh conceived sons through divine intervention and, moreover, their sons initiated the emergence of a new people. Some Fathers of the Church as well as Eastern iconography suggest the three figures may be a manifestation of THE HOLY TRINITY noting how Abraham encounters the LORD and SEES THREE MEN STANDING BEFORE HIM (cf. Gn 18:1-2). (CCC 148, 276, 332, 489, 706, 2571)
Ch 18:20 Their sin is very grave: Sin is a violation of God’s eternal law, whether committed by thought, word, or personal action. Such disobedience goes against the objective moral law, which is accessible by the light of NATURAL REASON. Any infraction of God’s Law has a destructive effect on the individual and in many instances extends to others. As sin spreads, it does great damage to the common good and society becomes adversely affected. This was the case with the sinfulness of Sodom and Gomorrah. (CCC 1871-1876)
Ch 19:23-28 The Moabites and Ammonites-the peoples said to be descended from the offspring who resulted from the incestuous rape of Lot by his daughters-would continue to figure in the history of Israel, often as its enemies. Incest is a gravely evil act against the Sixth Commandment. (CCC 2388)
Job 7:1-21 Job argued that suffering was everyone’s lot and hinted at its redemptive value. Experience of tribulations is intimately connected to the weakened human condition due to Original Sin. Inclination to sin, vulnerability to sickness, and the reality of death all comprise occasions of suffering. By coping with pain and setbacks, we can achieve a profound union with God and reflect more faithfully the heart of Christ. (CCC 409)
Ch 7:11-21 Acknowledging God’s absolute transcendence over all people, Job saw God as both a benefactor and tormentor. At various points in the book, it becomes clear that Job did not really dispute the connection between suffering and sin; rather, he was bewildered as to why God would choose to bring suffering upon an innocent person such as himself. His wonderment at the mysterious ways of God emphasizes that God’s wisdom and providence go beyond the realm of human understanding. (CCC 37, 1040)
Ch 7:17-18 Our lofty human dignity derives from the fact that God created us in his own image, thereby giving us the capacity to know him and love him. Having a mind and will, which are characteristic of an immortal soul, puts every human being at the summit of the created world. Given every human person’s capacity to know and love, EVERYBODY is called to have a personal relationship of intimate friendship with God by the gift of faith. (CCC 356-357, 1710-1715)
Ch 8:1-22 Shuhites were descendants of another son of Abraham who, like the Temanites, lived in the deserts of Arabia. Arguing from traditional teachings, Bildad scolded Job and essentially agreed with Eliphad’s analysis: God imparts suffering as a way of bringing the sinner to justice. If Job would repent, God would once again lavish Job with blessings. Bildad went further to point out that while his children had paid the full price of their sins with their lives, Job still had time to reconcile with God. Bildad simply argued that trials and tribulations are God’s response to sin.
Proverbs 2:1-22 Wisdom is achieved by the desire to give glory to God as inspired by moral law. Both mind and heart must be properly disposed to fulfill God’s will…(CCC 25565, 2690)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
Key Event 9: Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-19:39)
The men of Sodom transgress hospitality and sexual morality (see Jude 1:7) by seeking to rape the angelic visitors of Lot (Gen 19:4-5, 8). Abraham interceded for Sodom, begging the Lord to spare the city if only ten righteous people could be found (Gen 18:22-23)-but ten were not found, and thus Sodom incurs God’s judgement.
Sarah and Abraham will soon be blessed with a son, Isaac.
The three men who are referred to as “Angels” that visit Abraham are types of the Holy Trinity
(all red type in today’s lesson about GENESIS is sourced to NABRE 3rd ed Catholic Study Bible)
The shifting numbers and identification of the “Angels” are a narrative way of expressing the mysterious presence of God.
Sarah LAUGHED when she heard God say He will return within a year and by then Sarah would have a son. Abraham LAUGHED in Gen 17:17 when he wondered if a man and woman as old as he and Sarah were could even bear a son.
The Hebrew word for LAUGH is YISHAQ which is also the Hebrew form of the name “ISAAC”!!
We don’t know necessarily WHO they are, but their role is to ENACT JUSTICE, not vengeance.
Justice is giving someone what is their due while vengeance is simply taking out anger upon somebody (WRATH)
Justice is clearly established in God wanting to destroy an entire city by Abraham challenging Him on his decision.
Sodom and Gomorrah became types of sinful cities in biblical literature.
Isaiah 1:9-10 says their sin is lack of social justice
Ezekiel 16:46-51 says their sin is disregard for the poor
Jeremiah 23:14 says their sin is general immorality
In Genesis, their sin is violation of the sacred duty of hospitality by the threatened RAPE of Lot’s guests (ALL the male citizens of Sodom, young and old wanted to KNOW Lot’s guests aka “The Angels”.....they wanted to rape them……!!!)
The angels blinded the men of sodom with an extraordinary flash which dazed them and also revealed to Lot the true nature of his guests.
Abraham eventually bargained down to 10 righteous people to keep God from destroying Sodom.
Turns out, there weren’t even 10 righteous people in Sodom, there were 4 (Lot’s family).
Lot and his wife and daughters were somewhat righteous due to their relationship with Abraham and the angels save their lives.
Even after being saved, Lot’s wife did not listen to and trust God and turned around to see what was happening to Sodom and was turned to a pillar of salt.
Even after being saved, Lot’s daughters basically rape Lot so that they can continue their bloodline.
Scripture does not say that this was wrong…….but sometimes The Bible does not TELL us it was wrong, but SHOWS us that it is the wrong thing.
Why? The descendents of the incest are the MOABITES (In Hebrew, me’abi which means “from my father” which is similar to the name Moab the first born son from the first daughter) and the AMMONITES (In Hebrew, Ben-ammi which means “son of my kin” from the younger daughter) who then become the ENEMIES of the Israelites, the ENEMIES of the chosen people of God.
The sinful, evil union results in future disaster for the Israelites.
At one point, Lot offered his daughters to the men of Sodom and that was not a good thing.
The authority of a patriarch within his house was virtually absolute. Lot’s extreme response of offering his daughters to a violent mob was motivated by the obligation of hospitality (*NABRE 3rd ed.)
Just because something is in the Bible, it doesn’t mean it is good, but we can still learn from it, even if it doesn’t immediately make sense.
Job……..Bildad tells Job that we know that God is just and He never, ever allows evil to happen to someone who doesn’t deserve it somehow.
So Bildad tells Job to admit it that he deserves his suffering somehow because we know God is just.
Bildad is defending God’s justice, but this does not help his friend.
Has this happened to you? Where you are suffering and someone gives you the pat answer and it doesn’t help at all?
Job knows this and believes God is just, but he hasn’t done anything evil and he does not understand what is going on.
The big question that the Book of Job raises is one we are all familiar with…...If God is just, why is there so much evil in the world? Why do good people suffer?
It is important to remember that SUFFERING IS REDEMPTIVE (Jesus redeemed us all through His own suffering)
Suffering is redemptive in part because it reveals to man that he is not God, rendering him more receptive to the divine
To suffer means to become particularly susceptible, particularly open to the working of the salvific powers of God, offered to humanity in Christ. In him God has confirmed his desire to act especially through suffering, which is man’s weakness and emptying of self, and he wishes to make his power known precisely in this weakness and emptying of self. (*Source: On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering by Pope John Paul II paragraph 23)
Only when we are weak do many of us rely on God and explicitly refuse to accept our own divine ambitions.
While it is true that suffering has a meaning as punishment, when it is connected with a fault, it is not true that all suffering is a consequence of a fault and has the nature of a punishment. The figure of the just man Job is a special proof of this in the Old Testament. (*On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering paragraph 11)
In the New Testament, Christ teaches the same truth by his Passion. The Lamb of God—who is entirely without fault—endured rejection, beating, taunting, flogging, and crucifixion at the hands of evil men. By suffering himself, the Son of God removed the moral stigma from suffering. No longer could it be said that personal suffering always indicates moral failure nor that it is a sign of God’s abandonment or disfavor.
The story is not going to end with an answer “Here is why”.
What is happening is that we are going on the journey with Job.
Rather than seeking an answer as to why, we are invited to enter into Job’s suffering and to allow his questions to be our questions and allow our questions to be his questions.
This way we can get his ultimate answer, even if the answer is not a why.
THE ANSWER IS NOT A WHY, THE ANSWER IS WHO (spoiler alert)
Prayer by Fr. Mike: "Father in Heaven we thank you so much. We thank you for your Word. We thank you for revealing your heart to us. We thank you for all of the gift that your Word is when it is proclaimed to us. We give you praise. We ask you to please, in the name of your Son Jesus Christ, Father in Heaven, receive our thanks. Receive our praise now. Amen."
It's a simple comparison to make between the story of Sarah in Genesis, and Mary's cousin Elizabeth in Luke 1. Both were barren and old, both were given a miraculous conception, and more. Add, then, Mary into the comparison. Considering her perpetual virginity, she would not bear children naturally, yet she received a miraculous birth as well. The difference being her child is the Christ, and she said, "yes" where the others included doubt.