Posted by: fvbcdm | July 9, 2014

Feast of Saint John of Cologne (9 July 2014)

In the Book of Genesis, we find that delightful story of Abraham haggling with God. And because many of us do not look for humor in the Bible, we fail to see it as a wonderful story and to laugh at it as we should, remembering all along that it is the Word of God and therefore profoundly true.

It has to do with Abraham, who, we must recall, is the father of the Jewish people. Unless we remember that, the story loses much of its meaning. Down through the centuries, the middle-easterners have been noted for the astuteness of their business acumen. There wasn=t much agriculture or industry in their part of the world until the discovery of oil, so they became extremely adept at trading and merchandising. Thus, we find the father of the Jewish people haggling God down from the original bargaining price to something lower.

God allows Abraham to lecture him on the importance of mercy as well as justice: “Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty?” Abraham asks. “Far be it from you to do such a thing! Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?” Remember, this is a human being reminding the God of infinite justice and mercy of his obligations—a bold presumption indeed! God is willing to spare the city of Sodom if fifty innocent men can be found. But now Abraham begins haggling seriously. What if only forty-five can be found? God agrees to that. What about forty? For forty innocent men, God will spare the city. “Don=t be impatient with me,” Abraham asks; “what about thirty?” Again, God agrees. “Let my Lord not grow angry with me—what about twenty?@ And finally, Abraham asks God if he will spare the city for TEN innocent men. And again, God agrees to do so.

We have here an example of the condescension shown by God in allowing his creatures to negotiate with him as if they were equals, and also the triumph of divine mercy over strict justice in God’s willingness to spare an entire city for ten good men. This prefigures the fact that he will spare the entire world for the goodness of one man—his divine son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This Message was composed some years ago.

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