St. Thomas Aquinas so correctly
asserted that if we do not adore the one true God then we will end up by
adoring the false god. So true! Another name for a false god is an IDOL.
IDOL—we may define as placing any
person, place or thing above God. Our
God is a jealous God and will not take second place to any person, place or
thing, or idea!
MOSES. As Moses descended the mountain after
receiving the Ten Commandments from God, he saw the people worshipping an idol,
a false god and it was a golden calf. Infuriated
by this scene, Moses broke the tablets of the Law, tore down the golden calf,
destroyed it by pulverizing it and threw the remains in the water.
How many so called “golden calves”
are being publically displayed and worshipped today? Almost impossible to count! But here are three!
MATERIALISM. How many people today
have chosen to place material things over God Himself? The created being prevails and is given more
importance than the “Creator.” Blessed
Pope John Paul II reminds us of the proper order of things with these
words: “Being is more important than
having…. And…. Doing flows from being.”
The modern psychologist-writer Erich Fromm put it succinctly: “If you are what you have and you lose what
you have, then who are you?” The Rich
man in the Parable was lost not so much for what he did but for what he failed
to do. Why? His material possessions blinded him from seeing Jesus present in
the poor and neglected Lazarus. (Lk. 16: 19-31) Thanks be to God that our new Pope Francis,
taking the name of St. Francis of Assisi, displays a sincere lifestyle of
humility, detachment, and evangelical poverty.
Jesus Himself taught the world at large with one of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor for theirs is the
Kingdom of God.” (Mt. 5:3). To
counteract the idol of materialism we all have to look honestly at our own
lives and see if we have “too much”. Do we have superfluities? Is our wardrobe
full to overflowing? Is our refrigerator always bursting and we end up by
throwing away excessive food—let’s say it, “wasting”! Then the next challenging question is how
can I give to the poor? What are some
concrete gestures or ways that I can manifest my solidarity with the poor? Never forget what Jesus says: “Whatsoever you
do to the least of my brothers that you do unto me.” (Mt. 25).
CONSUMERISM. Intimately connected with the idol or
false-god of materialism is that of “Consumerism”. The modern maxim: “Shop until you drop” summarizes
consumerism. The famous “Black Friday”
following Thanksgiving has become one of
the most famous days for buying in the USA. Lines of hundreds wait outside
stores, even camping out the whole night, to be among the first to buy and buy
and buy with the best discount prices!
A few years ago in New York a sad but true tragedy occurred. The doors
were opened at Wal-Mart for buying and people stampeded in like Buffaloes,
furious, frantic and frenetic to “shop until drop.” One of the employees of Wal-Mart
was run over, by a freight train of people; worse yet, he was killed. The owner
of the store closed down the store to mourn the loss of one of his
workers. However, irate buyers exploded
in anger because the store was closed down.
This scene says a million! It
clearly manifests where the hearts of many are today. The thing prevails over the human person.
Buying, purchasing, having, obtaining, CONSUMERISM, has primary importance in
life for many. As disciples of Our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ we firmly believe that the human person has more innate
value than all of the created universe put together. Actually all of creation is a gift of God to
man so that man may attain eternal life.
ELECTRONIC MEDIA. Of course all that God created is “Good”. The explosion, in the past twenty-five years,
of electronic devices has radically changed the world far and wide! T.V., computer, internet, Black-berries, I-pad
and I-phones, Kindle, the Smart-phone, Simul-cast programs, Skype-all of these
are manifestations of the progress of technology which can be used for immense
good in promoting the Gospel and Gospel values. However, there is the other
side. Pornography has become the number one addiction in the country. Countless
numbers of people have huge addiction problems and the situation is going from
bad to worse! Furthermore, communication between spouses, communication between
parents and children has suffered immensely. One of the principle reasons is
the disordered and excessive use of electronic devices and games. A typical scene that all of us have sadly
witnessed is the whole family sitting together on the couch at night—all are
closely knitted and almost locked together. But really? Dad is watching T.V. Mom is busy sending an e-mail, Daisy, the eldest
daughter has her headphones on; Billy is wildly texting; even the Dog Petie is
playing with his paw with some electronic device. We laugh at this scenario but also weep
because we know that, at least to some extent, maybe this has been our family
scenario or it could be in the near future!
CONCLUSION: THE CHALLENGE IS
OURS! We have mentioned three modern
idols that huge numbers have enthroned in their hearts as their modern
gods—idolatry! There is another path that
we can take. This path is to choose deliberately to place God, Our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ, in the very center of our lives.
This must be a clear and deliberate choice that we must make. Also,
temptations to fall into idolatry abound; the deliberate decision must be made
and renewed on a daily basis.
We conclude with a few Gospel verses
that can set the tone, pave the way, and clear the path and illuminate our
minds to be Counter-cultural and Christ-centered. Jesus teaches us the greatest Commandment: “Hear,
O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with
all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. The second is
this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment
greater than these.”(Mk. 12:29-31)
Every day we should start off our day with these words of Jesus in mind
and at the end of the day make an examination of conscience to judge our
faithfulness. May Our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel, attain for us to avoid at
all costs the modern idols and have our lives focused on Jesus, the Son of the
living God, our Way, Truth, and Life.