Remember Lot's wife

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

ONE of the memorable places in biblical times is Sodom.

With same sex marriage already allowed in modern times and in certain countries, men having sex with other men is no longer taboo. I am interested with Sodom because of Lot's wife. She was a woman fascinated by the world, like most of us residents along the Angeles-Olongapo pleasure strip.

Even if you are in New York, in gay Paree or even in Angeles City, we are confronted - and gravely tempted - by the same conditions during Mrs. Lot's time. Wine, women, and twerky dancing.

Lot and his wife chose to live in Sodom because it was a bustling metropolis, the hub of commerce and libertine social life in those climes.

Sodomites, like people in modern cosmopolitan society, lived in wealth and enjoyed the vices and temptations that money can afford.

The angels who forewarned Lot and his family to leave Sodom before its destruction had a hard time convincing Lot and family to leave their riches, luxury, and carnival-like existence.

This holiday season, as we engage or are swept into giddy revelry, the lovers of pleasure amongst us need no angels to help them out of their personal Sodom.

Our hearts lie where our treasures are. Certainly there is no imminent and present danger posed by warnings of destruction. Ipagpatuloy ang ligaya.

Lot's wife did not heed the warning. She was turned into a pillar of salt, now a symbolic example for our unbridled attachment to material possessions and carnal pursuits.

Many years ago, I was afflicted by an alcohol-induced gastric ulcer. I got healed merely by total abstinence from the bottle. Soon the urge to imbibe of a Jack Daniels whiskey impelled me to go back drinking. I looked back at the old happy days, drinking. This was a fatal mistake because I was punished with chronic intestinal bleeding the second time around.

It happens every time - a family member who after helping the children and elders escape a fire, goes back to the raging flames to retrieve something of value, then dies in the act.

We have read of avaricious treasure hunters in the north who perished while digging for non-existent gold bars in a deep tunnel. They got buried into the bowels of the earth as the grounds collapsed.

Former lovers, now with respective legal spouses, get back to each other's arms, rekindle an old passion, and revive an old affair. The embers of covetous love rages to a huge fire leading to an insuperable tragedy.

This act of turning back to get a last glimpse, to savor the last taste, and feel a final touch of a lover, a prized possession, or a memory is a legacy of Lot's wife.

It is the stuff that make tragic characters of Romeo and Juliet, of Jack and Rose of "Titanic" and ill-starred lovers of world literature and dead expatriates in Balibago, AC. In Xuzhou, China a harassed man jumped to his death after a bad quarrel with a girlfriend who, after four hours of shopping, still wanted to buy some shoes. He told her she has already enough shoes to wear a lifetime, and it was pointless to buy more. She shouted at him, calling him a tightwad and a fun spoiler. He jumped from the 7th floor to end the argument.

A six-year-old boy in Colorado, USA had the most fun in his life when he kissed a girl classmate, same age, and got suspended as a disciplinary action. The boy could not forget the thrill of the first kiss and was carried away by his emotion. He stole another kiss. And Lincoln Tech school authorities are debating whether the second peck constituted sexual harassment that merits a lengthy furlough for the grader kid who turned to look back at and redo his maiden peccadillo.

Sam Abidin shot and killed his victim, fled, then joined the usual crowd of uziseros milling about the body of the dead man. The killer usually gets back to the scene of his crime. The police nabbed Abin, a known hood, while watching his victim.

We are all sinners who had repented for a grave transgression. But men go back to the thrill of a "last" job. The pawnshop thief is tempted to do one more dig, a bank robber to make his last heist, the dope peddler his final sale. Most often they got caught in the final act. But not the fornicator.

Frequently, we find ourselves in places of temptation, in occasions of sin, as Catholics are reminded. We get entangled by our inordinate attachment to a possession, a property, a sexual relationship.

Focusing on and running after our heart's (illicit) desires is like Lot's wife who, hesitant and heavy-footed, tarried and lingered fatally to look back at majestic Sodom.

Remember Lot's wife. Luke 17:32. It's my column's homily this Yuletide. To appropriate the little boy's greeting in Christmas Carol: "A Merry Christmas to us, everyone!"

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on December 23, 2013.


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