Do you ever feel that you are unredeemable? That is to say, do you feel you have committed sins that are simply too big, too evil, for God to forgive? The people of Sodom and Gomorrah must have felt this way. In a footnote in the New American Bible, in a note to the reading, many reasons for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. “The immorality of the cities was already hinted at in 13:13, when Lot made his choice to live there. The “outcry” comes from the victims of the injustice and violence rampant in the city, which will shortly be illustrated in the treatment of the visitors. The outcry of the Hebrews under the harsh treatment of Pharaoh (Ex 3:7) came up to God who reacts in anger at mistreatment of the poor (cf. Ex 22:21–23; Is 5:7). Sodom and Gomorrah became types of sinful cities in biblical literature. Is 1:9–10;3:9 sees their sin as lack of social justice, Ez 16:46–51, as disregard for the poor, and Jer 23:14, as general immorality. In the Genesis story, the sin is violation of the sacred duty of hospitality by the threatened rape of Lot’s guests.”
Whatever the reasons, Sodom and Gomorrah have become synonymous for places steeped in sin, places beyond the mercy of God. But the readings today present a different picture. There is hope, a chance at redemption. “Wash yourselves clean!” “Cease doing evil, learn to do good.” “Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord.” We know that of our own accord we cannot set things right, that it is only by the grace of God that such occurs. Rather, it is when we heed the words of God, when we are “willing and obey” that we are able to accept the Lord’s forgiveness and have our sins, as bright and obvious as scarlet on snow, will indeed become white, pure, clean.
Indeed, Lent is a time for us to turn to the Lord. Many parishes have reconciliation services, those times when people can be made who through the grace of the sacrament of confession. Take advantage of these opportunities. Hear today the words of the Lord: Wash yourselves clean!“