Father George William Rutler Homilies

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The darkening that comes with the year’s shortest hours of daylight is like the lowering of the lights in a theater as the play is about to begin. But in the “Drama of Salvation” by which the human race is offered the promise of restoration to its original glory, “all the world’s a stage,” and the acts and actors are real. The creation of the world was not a mere myth, otherwise we would not be here. Nor are good and evil abstractions, for they always have had real consequences.

One of the most dramatic events in the progress of man, to which Saint Jude would later allude (Jude 1:7), was the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah about 1,700 years before the birth of Christ. He knew that the story of that destruction was not the sheer theatrics of fiction. Until recently, it was convenient for some scholars to pass it off as an instructive legend. Archeologists in a symposium this past month concluded that those cities north of the Dead Sea were utterly destroyed, and their land became uninhabitable for the next six hundred years. The substantial theory is that upwards of 60,000 inhabitants were wiped out by a meteor exploding at low altitude with the force of a ten-megaton bomb, dropping platinum and molten lava on the larger area called Middle Ghor, and unleashing a temperature the same as the sun.

Wise ones interpreted this as punishment for the corruption of that culture. There is a symbiosis between matter and morality. When souls are disordered, there are consequences in all creation. So it was, that at the climax of the Drama of Salvation, when Christ died on the cross, the sky grew black.

It has been quipped that if God does not punish our culture for its decadence and contempt for natural law, He owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology. It was to save us from total destruction that the Word, whose utterance brought all things into being, became flesh and then appeared on a day now called Christmas.

Twice did our Lord speak of Sodom, saying that its fate was less severe than that of anyone who by an act of willful pride, rejects Him and all that He requires in the way of obedience to His truth (Matthew 10:15; 11:24). Such severity is the outcry of the Christ who wants that none be lost and that all be saved. This is a reminder never to infantilize the Babe of Bethlehem for, while He may whimper in the manger, this is the Voice that made all things and judges all at the end of time. And in His humility by making Himself frail and fragile in a stable, He reveals a mercy more powerful even than an exploding meteor.

“For their sake He remembered His covenant and showed compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love” (Psalm 106:45).

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