I’ve been thinking of the great patriarch Abraham. I picture him interceding with God on behalf of the doomed city of wickedness. Abraham will stick his neck out to beg the Creator of the Universe to spare an entire city filled with wicked people if even a few righteous men can be found there. (Various translations use righteous, innocent or just.)
And that’s one of the things I love about him: Abraham doesn’t ask the Lord to spare only the righteous. He pleads that all the people be spared for the sake of the innocent few. He starts out by asking the Lord to spare the city if 50 innocents can be found. The Lord agrees. Then Abraham says, But what if there are only 40? They continue this way until the number has dwindled to only 10 righteous men and the Lord agrees to spare all for the sake of the 10. But Abraham has underestimated the number of evil-doers and overestimated the number of the righteous. The Lord finds not even 10 righteous men and the Cities of the Plain disappear from the face of the planet.
But look at the mercy that the Lord was ready to show to Sodom and Gomorrah. If only a few could have been found who were faithful to Him. I think He might have spared those towns if He could have found only one man of faith living there. Think of it: He couldn’t find one man of faith, not one! That sends chills down my spine. (*See note below.)
And what about us today? When God casts His all-seeing gaze upon us, what does He see? Does He seek in vain for people of faith in our world, in our country, in our city, in our parish? Does He find fifty? Or does He fail to find even one?
When we break God’s Law, the whole land suffers. But when we are faithful to His Word, all the land reaps blessings. Blessing or curse, it all comes down to the faithfulness (or faithlessness) of one woman or man.Think about it the next time you’re tempted to break faith, even in something that seems small. That small act can have tremendous consequences, for good or ill.
Note: The Lord’s Angels did rescue Abraham’s nephew Lot but did not spare the city for his sake. In the 20th century St. Faustina saw the Angel of the Lord about to destroy a city in Poland and she interceded for it. At first it seemed her intercession had no affect, but when she heard the words of the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, she prayed them and the Angel could not strike the city. So intercessory prayer is powerful and the prayer of the righteous can save the multitude. Perhaps if Lot had interceded with the Lord…I don’t know.