Our Judgment vs. God’s

I heard a really powerful sermon at Mass this weekend that focused on the lesson of the reading I spoke about yesterday – Abraham’s argument with God about the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. The priest began by saying that it is not rare to hear preachers in this country (he singled out some parts of the country where the message was mostly likely to be heard) issuing dire warnings about the punishment in store for America: railing against homosexuality, abortion, sexual permissiveness and a host of other sins and warning that God will strike us down the way he destroyed Sodom and Gomorroah.

But, said the preacher, when you look at the Genesis reading carefully, you see that six times God says “I will not destroy it.” Six times he says he will spare the city. God’s desire, in other words, is reconciliation. God’s desire is to bring all people to God’s self. The priest then went through a sobering litany. To give a few examples:

We execute criminals. God doesn’t.

We kill innocent babies in a womb. God doesn’t.

We settle our differences through armed conflict. God doesn’t.

We destroy the poor, the disabled, immigrants – by pushing them outside of us. God doesn’t.

God doesn’t hate sinners. We do.

God doesn’t commit acts of racism or sexism. We do.

God doesn’t marginalizes the undesirable. We do.

He continued in this vein, covering the myriad of ways in which our judgment is so much harsher and more divisive than God’s. He then suggested that instead of hating people and threatening them with God’s wrath, we are invited to model ourselves on Jesus, who died asking his father to forgive those who tortured and killed him. To show God’s compassion and love to all who we meet – whatever they have done and whoever they are.

Our God is a God of love, not vengence and destruction. That is the message we ought to be conveying to the world.


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