Praying for All

Genesis 18:20-33

Today we continue to see human beings straying from God’s path and at the same time we see His gracious love that, even in the midst of great evil, seeks to reach out to them and save them. But we also see how God looks for a faithful remnant among the people, and how He shows mercy on their account. Saint Ambrose of Milan writes,

And thus, through a sequence of questions and answers, even if ten just are found in the city, God promises not to punish the entire populace thanks to the rectitude of a few. From this we should understand what a powerful bulwark a just person can be for the country and how we should not be jealous of saintly persons or criticize them with temerity. In fact their faith saves us; their rectitude preserves us from destruction. Even Sodom, if it had had ten just men, would have been able to save itself.

This text not only speaks of the mercy of God, but it also reminds us of the bonds of solidarity that bind the human family together. We are not isolated individuals, but share a common ancestry and whatever we do, even in secret, has an impact on all other people. The Fathers teach us that we all bear responsibility for what happens to others, and Saint Silouan the Athonite teaches that we should love all, pray for all, weep for all, and repent for all. He writes,

He who has the Holy Spirit in him, to however slight a degree, sorrows day and night for all mankind. His heart is filled with pity for all God’s creatures, more especially for those who do not know God, or who resist Him and therefore are bound for torment. For them, more than for himself, he prays day and night, that all may repent and know the Lord

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A Reading from the Book of Genesis 18:20-33:
Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me; and if not, I will know.” So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom; but Abraham still stood before the LORD. Then Abraham drew near, and said, “Wilt thou indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt thou then destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” And the LORD said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Abraham answered, “Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Wilt thou destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” Again he spoke to him, and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” He said, “Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.