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Monday, June 30, 2003

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First Martyrs of Rome

Genesis 18:16-33
Psalm 103
Matthew 8:18-22

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"mercy is not strained"

"Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness." —Psalm 103:8

Abraham asked the Lord to spare the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah if there were ten innocent people in those cities (Gn 18:32). Yet the cities were destroyed by fire and brimstone because there were not ten innocent people in them, and possibly because Abraham stopped interceding for the inhabitants of these cities.

Abraham stopped interceding possibly because:

  • He thought he had reached the limits of God's mercy. This was wrong because in the light of the new covenant we know the Lord's mercy is limitless.
  • Abraham had reached the limits of his own mercy. Abraham may have thought that if the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were that evil, they deserved to die. Let us instead live by God's standards of mercy.
  • Abraham thought there were surely at least ten innocent people in these wicked cities, but he was wrong. Our sins are often worse than we think. We need God's mercy much more than we realize.

Abraham probably underestimated God's mercy and humanity's need for it. Let us learn from his mistake. "Blest are they who show mercy; mercy shall be theirs" (Mt 5:7).

Prayer:  Father, make me a messenger of mercy.

Promise:  "A scribe approached Him and said, 'Teacher, wherever You go I will come after You.' Jesus said to him, 'The foxes have lairs, the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.' " —Mt 8:19-20

Praise:  As many as 979 Christians were martyred in Rome during the year 64 A.D. Their witness has borne great fruit as their blood was not only the seed of many Roman Christians, but also prepared Rome to be the home of the Pope.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, December 29, 2002

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 31, 2002