Scripture: Lectionary # 378. Genesis 19: 15-29. Psalm 26:2-3,9-10,11-12. Matthew 8:23-27:
“O Lord, your kindness is before my eyes.” (Response of Psalm 26). God shows great mercy and kindness to Abraham’s kinsman, Lot. The impending destruction of Sodom and Gommorah is not going to harm Lot. Lot’s pleas and prayers are directed to his friend, God, who does listen to him and grants him a place of refuge called Zoar—a small village among the other five listing Sodom and Gommorah among the five cities of the plain. Lot’s trust in the covenantal relationship begun by Abraham is rewarded by his escape with most of his family except his wife who is “turned into a pillar of salt.” We continue to pray the psalm with this scene in mind as we pray: “For your kindness is before my eyes and I walk in your truth.”
Isn’t it true that we all need a place likened to Zoar when we are facing difficult internal battles or difficulties coming from outside pressures, people, and even family members. We need to find refuge in the Lord in a place of solitude where we can commune with God as a friend. We need our Zoar and even suggest it to God. Maybe it is a corner for prayer in our room, or a shrine dedicated to Mary, or a chapel, or nature, or just a new place we discover. There we hope to find the peace and security that Lot experienced.
In the Hebrew text for this passage from Genesis there is a play on words in the verse where Zoar is mentioned. This is not picked up in translations but the context tells us something about the pun when it mentions that God tells Lot to hurry, escape, I cannot do anything for you, Lot, until you arrive there (Zoar). Space for prayer is necessary if we are to get in touch with the mercy and loving-kindness of God. We should not delay getting to that place of prayer.
Often, in the Psalms, we find the loving-kindness of God mentioned. The Hebrew word is Hesed and it is always connected with the covenantal relationship we have with God. The best translation according to a Jewish scholar and friend of mine is “loving-kindness.” We need to trust God will provide us with a place to converse with him and it there that we can rest from our troubled concerns. May we discover this in our psalm for today and possibly read another psalm that contains such support and consolation of God’s loving-kindness. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.