The Lord said: “How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know.”
So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham came near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.”
Abraham answered, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”
Again Abraham spoke to the Lord, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.”
Then Abraham said, “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” The Lord answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.”
Abraham said, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” The Lord answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.”
Then Abraham said, “Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there.” The Lord answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”
Abraham could not seem to believe that God, who is just, would include the righteous in His punishment of the sinners in Sodom. Being a good father to all nations that he was, he was concerned for the good people in Sodom and asked the Lord if He was indeed going to punish the good together with the bad. The Lord said that He was not going to punish Sodom if there were fifty good people living there. I marvelled at Abraham’s determination and at the same time, at his respect for God as he ‘bargained’ with Him for the Sodomites’ lives.
How good are we at speaking up for others, especially in the face of strong and powerful authority or public opinion? Most of us would probably just keep quiet because we do not want to go against someone powerful.
My realization from this reading is that we need to speak up for others, especially for those who are weak or for those who are disadvantaged. If we are to be good leaders, loving parents, and caring siblings, our help would be most appreciated, especially for those who are not in a position to defend themselves. Just like Abraham did for the people of Sodom.
"[W]e need to speak up for others, especially for those who are weak or for those who are disadvantaged."
There was some gossip going around in our workplace about the reason for a person’s resignation. Someone confronted me one day, demanding why I did not tell her about this ‘news’ that was making the rounds. I said because everything that I knew about the matter was hearsay and that I had no business spreading that around. I knew that she did not like my answer. I said I could verify it if I went to the person directly. I however saw no reason to do that and would rather respect that person’s privacy. I told the person who confronted me that I did not think the gossip was true and that the person who resigned was offered a job which was too good to pass up. This was what the one resigning told us, so it was not gossip.
Just as Abraham spoke and mediated for the people of Sodom, we can do the same in the milieu we are in by using our influence for the greater good. Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help us to speak out in defence of others. Allow us to overcome the fear of being unpopular, of being judged and of being criticized as we go about doing what we know is for the common good. We offer up these unpleasant consequences to You in atonement for our sins and for the souls in purgatory. Amen.