In times of crisis, the main question is: can the course of our story be altered? Can it change for the better? Today's reading on Lot's leaving Sodom and Gomorrah bears this good news. The preceding story, Abraham's successful prayers for the city of Nineveh already showed this. What strikes us in these stories, that both of them negotiate with God. Abraham is driving a hard bargain. He begs for God's mercy for fifty. Step by step, he lowers the number of righteous for whose sake God will change his mind and save the city. 'Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for the lack of five?' God – destiny – is moved by this love for fellow human beings.
In Lot's case it is not saving the city. He hosts the angels of history the night before destroying the sinful cities. 'And he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.' Then the angels of destruction warn Lot to warn his relatives, and himself, to leave in time. They show compassion, in response to Lot's generosity.
The good news is that powers that shape our history can be altered. Human compassion can liberate powers of grace and initiate a new turn. So, history is not destiny, it is not a closed iron cage. The challenge is twofold. To have compassion and charity ready in our hearts, and to meet the angels of our cities in time. The question is as to whether the meeting point is in our churches. And weather the angels will find those persons, whom they want to meet, or who have the power – like Abraham and Lot did – to move them to compassion.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..