For most of us today, the concept of idolatry seems alien because we don't see pagan statues around us that we bow down to. But are there things in our lives that we turn too when life gets difficult?
In the first reading, God made a pact or a covenant with the Israelite nation after they were freed from their slavery in Egypt.
God would be there for them, and they were to love Him about all else and their neighbors as themselves.
... Not to have idols.
This was important for God's Chosen People because, in that period of time, the nations around them had false idols, false gods, which could so easily influence them.
Perhaps, this Lent is a good time to discover if we have some form of idolatry in our own lives. That can certainly be one of the reasons why we are asked to fast and abstain (give up something we enjoy), pray more (give up some of our usual routine or leisure time), and give alms (give money away).
Lent can be a time when we, once again, make deep spiritual discoveries about ourselves; a time to discover how difficult it is to give up things we really love or like.?
A Snack Food or not eating between meals?
An Evening cocktail?
A favorite TV program?
Our first reaction might be...
Well that is too old fashion to give up something.
I really could if I wanted to.
But I have already given up so much.
Maybe next Lent.
It makes me too uncomfortable right now.
Perhaps the real reason is that we have idols, things we turn to when we have to face difficulties in our lives; when we refuse to carry the Cross.
We don't want to be uncomfortable, so we won't give up anything. That in itself can be a great discovery for us during this Lent.
In the Gospel reading we hear of how angry Jesus was with those in the Temple, His Father's House because they were turning this sacred place into a place where they could, in a sense, worship the idol of making money.
Jesus gets angry and overturns the money tables and runs them out of the temple area. He is trying to help them see they have idols and have turned away from God.
Jesus was leading them into conversion and He does the same for us.
Events that lead us to see ourselves, to convert, can be very difficult and so we rejected reject them and think we do not need to change.
At the moment God is allowing us not to feel good, we often turn to something that will take away the struggle of the Cross and make us feel good.
In sense, God is turning our own money tables over. This can be a time of real blessing, leading us to conversion and discovery that we do have idols and that we turn to idols when we refuse to accept the Cross, our struggles.
St. Paul writes to this Christian community in Corinth, who, at times struggle with suffering, difficulties, persecutions, etc.
They were influenced by great number of the pagans that lived around them, the ones who turn to their idols . So Paul reminds them...
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
He is helping them to see that God worked in ways that seemed foolish.
Is not the same true for us as we look at the difficult situations and events in our lives?
It is so easy to turn to our own idols and escape the cross and then feel good.
Part of our Lenten journey is to convert, to repent. And how can we repent if we don't make new discoveries about ourselves?
Whenever we come before the Lord with our discoveries of failures, of problems, of sins; His mercy, compassion, and forgiveness are always there.