Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Judges 2 recalls the infidelity of the children of Israel, who turn away from the exclusive worship of their Lord YHWH and come to worship other gods as well. We might imagine that, in some cases at least, this may have begun innocuously enough. One can suppose that an Israelite might have been friends with  neigbors from a different nation, with whom he may work while farming or celebrate when harvesting. Perhaps the when the Israelite pays homage to his God, YHWH, the neighbor is pleased to join him. When the neighbor then goes to worship his god, perhaps a god of fertility or harvest or of the sun, the Israelite thinks, “well, that’s my God that he is worshiping: who can the true god of fertility be, but the one that I worship?” And so the Israelite joins his friend at the altar of his friend’s god. Someone today might do something similar, saying, “we all worship the same God!” That clearly does not seem to be the position that the God of the Old Testament or the God of Jesus Christ (who is the same God!) takes in scripture. In fact, embedded within the first of the ten commandments is the affirmation that our God is a “jealous God” who insists that we shall have no foreign (strange) gods before him (cf. Exodus 20:2-6, CCC 2083ff).
As we have already noted (see Magis reflection for 20 June 2015 –, human beings are created to worship Another; even those who claim to be atheist can be seen to worship some “god,” whether they realize it or not. We come, in some way, to resemble the god whom we adore, whether it be an idol that we have created, or the true God revealed in Jesus Christ. It is not enough to say call Jesus our “Lord” in order to be saved, for we can call a false god “Jesus” (cf. Mt 7:21-22, Lk 13:24-27). For this reason, we must earnestly beg Jesus to help us to know who he truly is, and then open ourselves to how he reveals himself to us in the scriptures. Our God is indeed the Creator of the universe (as some other gods claim to be), but what omnipotent god, what science, comes to us as a powerless child, one who hands himself over completely to us on a cross to which we nail him? Truly, there is no other god like our God. We may adore many idols (mammon, etc.) and call many things “love,” but only through Jesus Christ can we discover the one true God who reveals to us what love really is. And, precisely because God loves us and will not allow us to settle for anything other than the highest end for which we are created (i.e. to share his life and love), he is a jealous god: not for his own sake, but for ours. Let us ask Jesus to help us to know and adore the true God, so that we might truly come to resemble him, to the point that when others see us, they see the grace of God at work within us rather than the idols that the world adores.
August 17th, 2015