Friday, February 14, 2014

“One must love God first, and only then can one truly love one's closest of kin and neighbors”

“Every man becomes the image of the God he adores. He whose worship is directed to a dead thing becomes dead. He who loves corruption rots. He who loves a shadow becomes, himself, a shadow. He who loves things that must perish lives in dread of their perishing.” ― Fr. Thomas Merton (No Man Is an Island)

Scripture Text: (PS 81:10-11AB, 12-13, 14-15)
R. (11a and 9a) I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
“There shall be no strange god among you
nor shall you worship any alien god.
I, the LORD, am your God
who led you forth from the land of Egypt.”
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
“My people heard not my voice,
and Israel obeyed me not;
So I gave them up to the hardness of their hearts;
they walked according to their own counsels.”
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.
“If only my people would hear me,
and Israel walk in my ways,
Quickly would I humble their enemies;
against their foes I would turn my hand.”
R. I am the Lord, your God: hear my voice.

When I read the exhortation in the responsorial psalm from today's Mass that we are to have no strange gods among us I thought of the Ten Commandments movie and the scene of the Hebrews waiting for Moses at the foot of Mt. Sinai worshiping a golden calf. I think it is fair to say that the worshiping of golden calves is not something we see or read about anymore. At least not in America. Thus, we might feel comfortable in saying to our friends that “idolatry” is so B.C. and certainly not something that we in the 21st century need to concern ourselves with.

But is idolatry really dead?

While we may not be worshiping images resembling mortal men, birds, animals and creeping things that St. Paul talked about in the book of Romans have we over the years reprioritized God’s importance in our life and have we moved him down the list from someone who should have a daily influence on our life to someone we hear about on Sundays for an hour; assuming we are not too tired to make it church? Has our fascination with the computer, the internet and the countless hours we spend looking at the words and images projected on our iPad become our false gods of the 21st century? Have our hearts become hardened because we don’t have time to hear God’s voice because we have countless emails to read and respond to and YouTube clips to watch and forward to our friends?

So what should we as Catholics strive to do? It may be as simple as to begin by assessing where you spend your day to see what your priorities truly are. How much time do you needlessly spend on activities that really serve no purpose? Can these wasted minutes and hours be better spent in prayer, reflection and meditation; or, in actual service to others who are in need? Lent will soon be upon us so it is not too early to begin to reflect on what our priorities are and how to soften our hearts to the true Word of God and to listen and hear where God is leading us.

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