Pope Francis held his weekly General Audience today in Vatican City. “He continued his catechesis on the Ten Commandments; you may remember that last week he also spoke about the topic of idolatry. This week he looked to Exodus 32 and the story of the golden calf … how the calf was created by the Israelites who were in the desert. Now the desert is a place that is full of instability, full of insecurity. There is scarcity of resources—water, food shelter—and he called that an image of our own human lives … which are also filled with uncertainty. And it’s that uncertainty that can lead then to anxiety; when we have anxiety that can lead to us searching for idols,” said Ashley Noronha, Relevant Radio® Vatican Correspondent, on Morning Air®.
We still fight the temptation of worshipping the golden calf in our own lives. “He says this is the temptation that all generations have had, and just like the Jewish people in the desert, today we’re still looking for that security and we look often to visible gods. He called it a ‘do-it-yourself religion.’ We make our own idols and custom tailor a god to custom suit our needs. So that golden calf is the symbol of the desires that we have and it’s an illusion of freedom that instead will enslave us,” said Noronha.
The golden calf of the Israelites represents fertility, abundance, energy, strength, and, of course, riches. “Success, power, money—those are things that we often are prone to look to as idols. Instead, when we have that inability to trust God and we don’t know how to allow him to handle the desires of our heart … we find our downfall,” said Noronha. “As [Pope Francis] said, we become content with meager assurances instead of with Christ himself. It’s like we’re content to eat the scraps instead of join in the feast.”
Rather than looking to what is comfortable and offers us false security, the Holy Father says, “as Christians we turn our gaze to the crucified Christ.”
Paraphrasing the pope’s words, Noronha reported, “We see him there: he is weak, he is despised, he’s been stripped of all his possessions. And it’s … in our weakness that we are then [able] to open ourselves to Christ who is truly strong.”