Posted by: fvbcdm | March 24, 2012

Feast of Saint Nicholas Owen (22 Mar 2012)

In the liturgy of the hours at this time of the Lenten season, we read of the golden calf. This was an idol, made by the chosen people down in the desert while their leader, Moses, was up on the mountain communicating with God.  This golden calf is the classic icon of idolatry: how in the world can people of faith make something with their own hands and then worship it as if it had made them?  We must remember that the very concept of “God” includes the idea that God is our maker, our creator, our designer.  We owe him our being.  And certainly, if we can make something, then it is INFERIOR to us, not superior.  The maker is superior to what he makes.  But the human being wants something, or someone, to adore and to turn to for help. And since we can’t SEE the real God, we tend to hanker for visible gods.  

Well, what sort of god can be seen?  What can I look at with my bodily eyes, which, or who, actually made me?  That kind of thing or person didn’t exist in the days of Moses and the exodus from Egypt.  So, correctly identifying creation with power, but also wanting VISIBLE power, the people of those days came up with an image of a powerful animal which would represent the power which made them.  What was a powerful animal?  Well, among those animals which had been domesticated and made useful to humans, the bull was a good example.  So Aaron made his people a statue of gold, which is a precious metal, in the form of a powerful young bull.  But God is greatly displeased by this idolatry, and refers with contempt to this golden statue of a powerful animal as “a calf that eats grass.”  The idea of worshiping a statue of a grass-eating calf is nearly as absurd as the worship of a live, grass-eating calf.   Both of them involve the giving of divine honor to things totally unworthy of it, whether a brute animal or its image which is not even a living thing.

But, next Monday we are going to celebrate the solemnity of the Annunciation, that immensely important moment in history when the Holy Spirit brought about the conception of a divine person in the womb of a young human person. NOW, the invisible God becomes visible, and in nine months will be born and be seen with bodily eyes.  We must not adore any non-living thing, nor even any living thing in the vegetable, animal, or human world except this man, this Jesus of Nazareth.  He is the visible God which the people of old longed to adore but could not.  Now we have a visible and adorable God, and the sin of idolatry is now happily exchanged for the great prayer of Christian worship and praise. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.


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