Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Suppose Only Ten Are Found

Then he (Abraham) said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”
Gen 18:32

God promised Abraham He would not destroy Sodom if as few a ten good men were found there. But He couldn’t find that many. How many are in our cities, I wonder.

My parish will have adoration in the church chapel from midnight to 6AM on Good Friday morning. Most churches strictly follow the regulation that the Eucharist should be reserved from display at the end of Thursday, and they end any adoration ceremonies at midnight. But many theologians and bishops point out that, in Scripture, Thursday night ends with the dawn of Friday. And so the exact hour of the “regulation” is not exactly regular, but I am very pleased with my parish’s interpretation, allowing all night for us to be in the presence of the Lord.

For a number of years I have loved to spend Holy Thursday night in prayer and adoration. This was when the scourging of Jesus occurred in the praetorium, and later that night he was crowned with thorns, mocked, and spat upon. It’s that later humiliation that really bothers me, and I believe really bothered Him. It was the time He felt most alone, and had time to think. I wonder what were His thoughts then, thinking about His friends that abandoned Him, possibly questioning whether all His efforts --- and now all His sufferings --- would be worthwhile? Would He be remembered; did it all matter? And then there were the thoughts about His upcoming death. He knew it was about to happen. On Holy Thursday night I like to stay awake and talk to Him, letting Him know that I care, and that He is not alone.

I ask Him to remember why He is going through this; why He must die. I ask Him to remember that He is dying for my sins, and I am sorry for that, but also that He is dying for the sins of all mankind --- including our sins today. I ask Him to not punish the world now, for all its sins that He has already died for --- isn’t that punishment enough? I pray that He not let any be able to prattle: “See, He punishes the world again, even after He said He died for their sins. Or, He told Noah that ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man,’ but He lied.” I pray that He have mercy on this world, so in need of mercy.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells those gathered at the Last Supper that one will betray Him. And “Judas, who betrayed him, said ‘Is it I, Master?’ (And Jesus replied) to him, ‘You have said so.’”

How many of us think that we are “good people,” and if we were at that table that night might also have asked Him the same question: “Is it I?” Is it I who will betray You? But we don’t see that a better question for us is: Is it I who NOW betray You, almost every day, with my casual belief in what You said and did? Is it I who You had to die for? Judas didn’t know all I know today, and yet still I fail You. Who is the bigger betrayer?

And so if we were to ask Him about the betrayer: “Is it I?” I wonder what His answer would be.

While I fear what that answer might be, I have great hope, hope that He sees into my heart, and that He judges with great mercy. I received one of those internet chain letter things a couple of weeks ago, and it made sense to me. It pointed out that Europe was said to have been saved from the Turkish fleet in 1573 because of the praying of the rosary, and suggested that certainly the world was in very dangerous straights right now. It asked that everyone pray the rosary on Good Friday between noon and three, praying for peace in the world and a return to moral values in our communities. I think that is a good thing to pray for, and I will do that. I believe God does hear our prayers, and where two are more are gathered, ….

Good Friday is also the start of the Divine Mercy novena, leading up to Mercy Sunday, the Sunday after Easter. These nine days of prayer for Divine Mercy are also a good thing to do, and I will do that also.

Certainly there is much evil in this world, and in our country, and even in our Church. And in our hearts. But God does hear our prayers, and He does love us. He died for us. Surely if we ask, He might have mercy on us. Surely there are more than ten good men to be found in our cities?

I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray
And they do not know my ways.”
So I swore in my anger,
“They shall not enter into my rest.”

Psalm 95

Creation is made subject to futility … but it is not without hope (Rom 8:20)

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