Wednesday, March 29, 2017

THE GOLDEN CALF


March 30th, 2017: Exod. 32:7-14.

          It’s difficult for most of us to relate to the story of the golden calf in today’s first reading. Idolatry is not high on the sin list of most Catholics. We’re aware of the charge by fundamentalist Protestants that we’re guilty of idolatry because we have statues of saints in our churches. We know, however, that we don’t worship the statues. And when we pray to the saints we’re merely asking them to pray for us. So what’s the big deal?

          The issue is not statues, and it’s not prayer to the saints. Idolatry is putting anything in the place that belongs to God alone. What are today’s false gods? There are four: pleasure, power, possessions, and honor. None of them are bad in themselves. Where we go wrong is making the pursuit of any of those four central in our lives. When we do that, we are guilty of idolatry: worshiping a god who cannot answer our prayers, because he is deaf, dumb, and blind.

          The person who lives for thrills is worshiping the false god of pleasure. Control freaks are worshiping the idol of power. People intent on getting more, and more, and more are idolizing possessions. And anyone who can’t stand not being in the spotlight is worshiping the false god of honor. Making the pursuit of any of those four idols central in our lives leads inevitably to frustration – because we’ll never get enough.

We are hard-wired for God. He is the only one who can satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. Put Him, the Lord God, at the center of your life, and he will give you pleasure, power, possession, and honor: not as much, perhaps, you think you should have; but as much as the Lord God knows is good for you. No one has said it better than St. Augustine when he wrote, from his own experience: “You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”