The Readings for Thursday in the 4th Week of Lent (B2)
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Go, get thee down: thy people, which thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt, hath sinned.
The Latin says they “have sinned”. But the Hebrew says, “They have corrupted themselves.” Yes, worshipping an idol is a sin… but more, it ruins one. It corrupts you. The Hebrew word is not pretty at all. This is what sin does to you (all the ways this word is translated into English):
act corruptly (4), act…corruptly (1), acted corruptly (3), acted…corruptly (1), acting corruptly (1), blemished animal (1), corrupt (8), corrupted (4), depravity (1), destroy (69), destroyed (14), destroyer (4), destroyers (1), destroying (7), destroys (5), destruction (2), devastate (1), felled (2), go to ruin (1), harm (2), jeopardize (1), laid waste (1), polluted (1), raiders (2), ravage (1), ravaged (1), ruin (1), ruined (4), set (1), spoiled (1), stifled (1), waste (1), wasted (1), wreaking destruction (1).
And, at heart, all sin is Idolatry.
It’s easy to make fun of the Israelites: they’ve just witnessed the Ten Plagues, they’ve crossed the red sea, they watch a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night talk to their leader and keep them safe, and yet, they decide maybe a golden calf would be good. If you’ll remember the story well, Aaron (whose last name was Martin, SJ) who knew the whole truth about this God, decided the People couldn’t quite handle the truth and thought it would be ok to give them something a little easier to swallow. So, misled by their religious leader, they forget, because of fear, everything they’ve seen and decide some gold is a better choice for themselves.
Yeah, it’s kind of easy to make fun of them, except that’s all of us, right?
We’ve seen God act. We’ve felt the power of God at Mass, in the Confessional, at Confirmation. We’ve seen God change lives, we know the story of the saints, we may even have deeply experienced Mystical insights. And yet, let someone (maybe named Martin, SJ) tell us there’s an easier way… and we’re all on it like so many flies around so many cows. We will make an idol out of any easier way we can find. And we destroy ourselves. Or maybe it’s politics, and we think the latest craze from prohibition to Trump is the way the Gospel’s gonna come to pass. And before we know it, we’re making the Gospel fit our new golden god, or at least his tiny fingers. And we destroy ourselves.
So yeah, it’s fun to make fun of the Israelites. But really: that’s us, there.
What’s got you idoling today?