Thursday, March 30, 2017

How far is the East from the West?

There is such a contrast between this mornings Old Testament reading and Gospel.  It's a subtle one but an important one.  Moses had gone up the mountain to spend time with God.   He told the people he would be back.  God was giving him The Commandments and carving them into stone.  While Moses was gone the people began to grow impatient.  They wanted to do something for God without God asking them to do so.  So they built and idol.  A golden calf to worship and glorify.   So much was their zeal for this that Aaron fell right in with them and helped make the idol.  In this case they had an empty idol in front of them, something that could do nothing.

When Moses sees this he is so consumed with rage that he destroyed the tablets of the commandments that God had made for him.   These people didn't deserve what God had to offer did they?   They had fallen into the worst of sin.  Yet, then Moses does something that proves his great love for his flock.   He intercedes for them with God.  He asks God to abate his anger and allow the people to live.  There were still repercussions.    The people still fell into sin again, and again.   But Moses showed us who God really was.

CCC 210 After Israel's sin, when the people had turned away from God to worship the golden calf, God hears Moses' prayer of intercession and agrees to walk in the midst of an unfaithful people, thus demonstrating his love. When Moses asks to see his glory, God responds "I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you my name 'the LORD' [YHWH]." Then the LORD passes before Moses and proclaims, "YHWH, YHWH, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness"; Moses then confesses that the LORD is a forgiving God.

In the Gospel reading we have almost the exact opposite of that.  Instead of an Idol standing before them, they have God Himself.   Jesus speaks to them eloquently showing his authority and the testimony that proves who He is.  There is no golden calf before them but they have their own false God.   They have become so hardened in their ways, so empty in their love, that they refuse to even listen to Jesus as He tries to show them again God's merciful love.   They want human praise.  They want recognition.  Jesus informs them that the true glory comes from God alone.   They have committed one of the most common forms of idolatry.. replacing God with empty religion.

CCC 2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, "You cannot serve God and mammon." Many martyrs died for not adoring "the Beast" refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.

Jesus is the New Moses.   He is the true prophet that was to come.   He is God incarnate.   Just like Moses he stood in the gap.   He intercedes even for those who stand before Him denying who He is.  How great is His love for us?  "As far as the east is from the west, from one scarred hand to another."  He opens His divine and human arms on the cross to embrace all of mankind.   That doesn't mean they accept it, or even believe in it, but for those who do?  Eternal life is the reward.  That means Jesus must be the locus of our lives.   The very point where everything our hearts, minds, and souls aims.

The question is, are we willing to be little Christs?  That means standing in the gap for others.  Praying for them yes, but even more.   Speaking for those who have no voice.  Healing and comforting those who have been abused.  Holding our arms open to all in need, be they refugee or citizen.  Giving our lives if need be to the Gospel.  Not asking for what someones sexual attraction, religion, or whatever other modifier you can place in there; before giving them your hand and lifting them up to their feet.  Looking out for the poor especially, the widow, the orphan and the alien.   It means making love a part of our very being, our lives. Offering them Christ not only in our words, but in our very being.  One must first be a friend, that is the very first step in evangelization.

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

"illum oportet crescere me autem minui"

A reflection on the readings for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent.  March 29th, 2017