Selling Out . . . for a Grass-Eating Bullock
“Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the Creator as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.“ ~ Charles Spurgeon
Both today’s 1st Reading (Exodus 32:7-14) and Gospel (John 5:31-47) address the scourge of idolatry and misguided praise, but it is perhaps Psalm 106, chosen in conjunction with these Scripture Passages, that sums up the absurdity of placing anything before God:
“Our fathers made a calf in Horeb
and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bullock.”
Throughout history, many memorable lopsided deals have gone down. One needn’t even leave the Bible to find one such example. In this story of Jacob and Esau, Jacob swindles his brother Esau into swapping his birthright for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:19-35). The Indians selling the Island of Manhattan to the Dutch for “60 guilders worth of trade,” approximately $1,090 in the year 2020. The Herschel Walker trade, which needs no explanation for fans of the Minnesota Vikings (...or Dallas Cowboys for that matter.). But the exchange as outlined in Psalm 106 and played out in the Book of Exodus today may very well take the proverbial cake: Eternal salvation and heavenly glory for a molten calf. Inexplicable.
Yet we’re guilty of the very same thing all too often ourselves. As Martin Luther once said, “Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God, your functional savior.“ But Idolatry goes far beyond skipping the 12:00PM Mass to catch the kickoff of the Ravens/Steelers game, or binge watching True Detective or House of Cards as opposed to for instance carving out a mere 20 minutes to recite the Rosary. Let’s talk about forgiveness For example. In his book “Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters,” Timothy Keller points out that “When people say, ‘I know God forgives me, but I can't forgive myself,’ they mean that they have failed an idol, whose approval is more important than God's.”
Hmmm...definitely something to think about there.
Lately I find myself habitually reflecting on Romans 8:28, wherein Paul explains that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” All things.
As a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Hollywood has gone on hiatus (...I point this out to those of you who actually care; most of you probably don’t). Professional sports leagues have shut down. The dazzling bright lights of Broadway have dimmed. Museums, art galleries, restaurants, malls, bowling alleys, bars, beaches, hair and nail salons, gyms...you name it. God has eliminated all the distractions. Could it be that He has done so in order to draw you closer to him?
"In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.” ~ 2 Corinthians 6:2
“We adore you O Christ and we Praise you. For by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”