Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
June 23rd, 2009

George Butterfield

School of Law Library
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 13:2,5-18
Psalm 15:2-3a, 3bc-4ab, 5
Matthew 7:12-14

Abram and Lot were relatives. They had so many possessions that they began to squeeze each other. The workers in both families began to quarrel. I used to be a school safety consultant and I learned early on that schools that have 1200 students jammed into a space designed for 800 eventually see an increase in crime and violence. People need space. Abram realized this and suggested to Lot that he take his pick of the land so that their families could separate. Lot looked around and saw the Jordan Plain. It looked like the Garden of Eden, a veritable Paradise. He chose Paradise for himself. The text says that he pitched his tents near Sodom even though Sodom had quite a reputation for wickedness. This became a metaphor in our church when I was young. A person who decided to hang out with the wrong crowd had “pitched his or her tent near Sodom.” Hey, the wicked often appear to be living in Paradise. We all know that the “bad” kids have all of the fun, right? Yet, it was Abram whom God blessed. Abram would have descendants as numerous as the dust. Eventually Lot’s Paradise turned into fire and brimstone and he lost everything.

A major concern of the psalms is who can live in God’s presence. Lot thought he had discovered Paradise and it turned into hell. Likewise, it often seems that the wicked prosper. They cheat, scheme, and do wrong and yet seem to get ahead. On this the psalmist is clear: the one who walks blamelessly and does justice, who actually thinks the truth in his heart, slanders not with his tongue, does no harm, accepts no bribe against the innocent, and basically lives a morally upright life is the one who can live in the presence of God. “He who does these things shall never be disturbed.” The point here is not that things can never go awry but that those who do not pitch their tent near Sodom need not worry about their Paradise turning into hell. God blesses the upright.

The Gospel lesson is taken from the Sermon on the Mount. It includes three sayings of Jesus. The first is that a follower of Jesus must be discerning. I do not believe that Christians should always proclaim the sacred teachings of their faith. There is a time to be silent. We have two dogs and we do not give them pearls to wear. I have been on blogs and discussion settings where no one present seemed to have a sense for what is holy, noble, or true. Do you spend your time expounding the holy mysteries of our faith in that setting? It can be a waste of time and all you receive for it is ridicule and abuse. To use an idea from one of Jesus’ parables: don’t throw the good seed onto rocks. You know the result. Better to look for good soil. There is a time to preach in Sodom and there is a time to just get out of town. Jesus goes on to present the Golden Rule and to explain that there are two gates and two roads. One way is broad and wide and many go down that road. One way is narrow and constricted and only a few find it. The sign over the broad gate says, “This way to Paradise, to Sodom, to joy” but leads to destruction. The sign over the narrow gate says, “Not for the faint of heart” and leads to eternal life.

All is not as it appears to be.

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.
Let Your Friends Know About This Reflection By Sending Them An E-mail


Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook