Our Golden Calves
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it, sacrificing to it and crying out, 'This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!' (Exodus 32:7~8)
When I read and heard that passage from Exodus last week at Mass, it was one of those times when it seemed strike right where I live, so to speak. It would be very easy for us to stand back and say: "Those crazy foolish Israelites, a golden calf? Really?" However, looking at the world around us today in the 21st century, we see that as a culture, we have not come that far from where those crazy Israelites were. We have formed our own golden calves, perhaps even more dangerous than that statue they came up with. Our golden calves are in the form of money, power, sex, drugs, or whatever gets in the way of God in our lives. Take a look at a list of the seven deadly sins, and you will see that they are alive and well in our society today.
OK, all that is on a global scale, but what about in my own life? Sure, I don't seem to have an attachment to any of those things I've listed, or do I? Maybe they are in a subtler form. What am I doing when I could be spending some time in Scripture or spiritual reading? Do I give of my time to those who really need it? Spiritual things in and of themselves can become idols as well. Am I spending every waking minute in church/parish activities and depriving my family of time they need from me? You get the picture.
I don't make this personal to judge. Lord knows, I am as guilty as the next person. My point in bringing this to a personal level is to help us root out these idols which are obstacles to faith, hope and love. They are obstacles to the one true joy of and in our lives~Jesus Christ.
My other point in all of this is, who did the Israelites have to intercede for them? They had Moses. Back to the global scenario... The world needs modern day Moses and Abrahams to stand in the breach and pray, asking God's mercy on this fallen and depraved world. It is not so much that prayer changes God's mind, but more that He is looking to see if anyone down here cares. He is looking to see if we care and love our brothers and sisters, especially those who have turned from Him. Intercessory prayer is a powerful tool. Moses and Abraham are just two examples of how it changed the lives of others, and maybe even the course of history.
In order to stand in that breach before Almighty God, we first have to look at our own lives and as Jesus tells us in Luke 6, take the beam from our own eye so as to remove the splinter from our brother's.
Lent is a great time to do this, especially as we prepare for Holy Week and Easter. Let's melt those golden calves of ours and put Jesus, our King, our hope, and our joy in their place, and then let us pray for those who do not know Him or love Him.
Note: I mentioned Abraham in this post. You can read a related post I wrote based on the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI: Abraham and Intercessory Prayer