My Dear Sisters and Brothers! It is not an isolated case. How many empires have emerged and then fallen apart. The first reading from the Book of Genesis gives us the story of the end of the wealthy and influential society of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The Bible tells us that Abraham’s nephew Lot chose to settle in Sodom and Gomorrah as they were very prosperous cities located in the most fertile part of the land. The location of the cities and the skilfulness of the citizens made the places a dream destination for refuges, like Lot and his family. However from the midst of the wealth and prosperity emerged a moral decadence. “How great an outcry there is against Sodom and Gomorrah! How grievous is their sin!” As we listened to the unfolding story it was explained to us that economic skills were not the only common thing there. The Genesis tells us that in that society an attempt to find 10 just people failed. The whole society was corrupted by their immoral way of living. Were they the only sinful people on the Earth? They were not. However they got to the stage when they started calling evil good. On the first pages of Genesis we are told of the first people being tempted to know evil and good. It had nothing to do with the ability of telling good from evil. On the contrary it was all about reaching for the authority which is reserved to God alone. The authority of deciding what is good and what is evil.
Imagine living in Sodom or Gomorrah and proposing to have a democratic system. All evil laws would be passed unanimously, as evil mentality; evil attitudes and evil practises were their new “normal” way of living. Probably it is hard for us to imagine that but they were so corrupted that even God’s message for repentance made no impression on them at all. They were not able to repent but they were skilful to train the next generations in their own decadence.
Is it a story of the past? Recently in the media the expression “The Divided States of America” has been used more and more often. The solidarity rallies and speeches of leaders express hope and confidence but at the same time the division is growing more and more. As I listened to those news reports the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta occurred to me. In 1994 in Washington DC she spoke to a gathering which included the then President Bill Clinton and his wife Hilary. In her speech the little nun said: “How can you advise nations to stop killing if you advise mothers to kill their own babies?”
Confronted by the Word of God the Church prays: “O God, protector of those who hope in you, without whom nothing has firm foundation, nothing is holy.” Any society that is to flourish must be built on the foundation of the moral law which God has engraved in the hearts of us all: believers and unbelievers alike. It is not about how many votes a law can get. The number of votes is not going to make evil good. It just reveals the corruption and decadence. If there is not willingness to repent and to reject evil the consequence is destruction and the history of great empires indicates that usually it is a self-destruction.
My Dear Friends in Christ! To conclude this homily I would like to use this great prayer Jesus Christ taught us to pray: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The future not only of the Church but also all nations on the Earth is closely connected to accepting and living the law God has engraved in us all. If we manipulate and play with that we are on the way to join those fallen apart and forgotten empires of the past.