Turning away from idols

lent2016

Reading Luke 22

Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2 and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. 3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

 

God opposes the haughty and blesses the humble.  What began to most fascinate Augustine was the earthly life of Christ, his torment, death, and resurrection. As he read the Bible he noticed how in its entirety it demonstrates one magnificent creation of the same God, but also reveals human wrongdoing. It is enough to mention the golden calf cast by the Israelites during Moses’ absence or the betrayal of Judas from today’s gospel reading.

"I set my heart upon the gold which at your bidding your people had brought out of Egypt, because wherever it was, it belonged to you. So you told the Athenians through your apostle that in you we live and move and have our being, and that indeed some of their own authorities had said this, and unquestionably those books I read came from there. I disregarded the idols of the Egyptians, to which they paid homage with gold that belonged to you, for they perverted the truth of God into a lie, worshipping a creature and serving it rather than the creator. Warned by these writings that I must return to myself, I entered under your guidance the innermost places of my being; but only because you had become my helper was I able to do so."

The Israelites, gifted by God with freedom, betrayed Him and turned to golden idols. Judas betrayed his master for money, despite being chosen and beloved by him. Jesus said: "Woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’ Judas, who betrayed him, said, ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ He replied, ‘You have said so’" (Matt 26:24-25).

The golden calf in the desert, Judas’ betrayal on the night of Thursday, secular rejection of the redemptive work of Jesus – these are the different forms of humanity denying God. Fortunately they are not the last words spoken in the great battle between good and evil; that is spoken by God alone. And it is important for us when we struggle with doubts, fears, difficulties and when we go from great love to fierce hate and from deep faith to denial.

Help us in our daily lives, Lord, to turn away from the various false idols offered by the modern world, and strengthen the conviction and faith in our hearts and minds that only you can give us true happiness and eternal life. Amen