Monday, July 27, 2009


First Reading: Ex 32:15-24, 30-34
Psalm: Ps 106:19-23 -- Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good
Gospel: Mt 13:31-35

You know well enough how prone the people are to evil.
They said to me, 'Make us a god to be our leader; as for the man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.’ - Exodus 32:22-23


A friend of mine once stated, "The Israelites must be the stupidest people in history. They had signs from God almost every day and they still wouldn't follow him." At the time, I didn't have much to say to him about it, as the problem vexed me as well. How could a people who had seen the wonders God had done for them (he had spoken to them directly only a few weeks prior) turn away from Him so quickly?

As we've looked at before, many people say that if they were to see the miracles of God that they would believe in him. However, we have also seen what the people said and did when those miracles actually occurred in their midst. Throughout the old and new testaments, there are examples of how great works were done when the people cried out to God, and then many of those same people forgot very quickly what the Lord had done for them and went back to their old habits. After the death of Joshua, in the time of the Judges, the people continue to go up to the "high places" to sacrifice to foreign gods. In the time of the kings, Solomon began to worship the gods of his heathen wives, Manasseh undid many of the reforms of Hezekiah (his father) and many other, far worse things (see 2 Chronicles 33:1-10).

In our own time, we don't seem to do much better than the Israelites. Idolatry is, sadly, still alive and well. Worship of money, television and other items in our lives. Some of us let science slip in to take the place of God, hoping that it will save us. Others place their hope in human laws, determined that their viewpoint be recognized. In some places, people demand that their own image be worshipped; that they be viewed as a god. Idolatry is the worship of anything but the one True God, so examples abound.

However, it is also important to note the actions of Moses immediately after the golden calf incident. Just before today's reading, God seems set to destroy the Israelites for their hardness of heart, but Moses pleads that they be spared. Later, after he sees for himself what the Israelites have done, he goes back up to speak with the Lord, begs forgiveness for the people and asks that he be able to stand with his people, whatever their punishment may be. In this, we see an image of Christ. Through our actions, we incite the wrath of God, but Jesus, who has not committed our sins, stands with us and takes the punishment we should have had.

Heavenly Father, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for being merciful to us, despite our wanderings and failings. Lord, help us to recognize when something is competing with you for our worship, or if we cannot, then send someone to wake us up to the dangers of idolatry. Grant that we may always place you at the center of our lives, that we might worship you forever in the banquet of Heaven. We ask all of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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