Chances are you know the story of the golden calf. Whether it’s because you know the story from Scripture or from The 10 Commandments with Charlton Heston, the history of the Israelites melting down their gold and creating an idol, even after the Lord led them out of slavery in Egypt, is an important part of salvation history.
Part of the reason this section of Scripture is so memorable is that it is so relatable. While we may shake our heads that the Israelites saw for themselves the power of God and still chose to worship an idol, how often are we like the Israelites? Even though we have been freed from the slavery of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we still worship idols in our everyday lives.
Recently on Father Simon Says™, Father Richard Simon reflected on this passage of Scripture, and how the story seems to mirror our society today.
Pointing out an often-overlooked part of the story, Fr. Simon said, “It’s an interesting line in [Exodus 32:25]. Moses saw that the people were running wild because Aaron had lost control, to the secret delight of their foes. Does that not describe our times? Moses saw the people were running wild because Aaron, who was going to be the high priest when it was all sorted out, in his priestly role had lost control. Not of the people, but of himself. He had no self-control.”
“Aaron had lost control because of his own weakness,” he continued. “He was afraid of the people and the people ran wild, to the delight of their foes. Is this not the world in which we’re living? How the world delights in the fact that the Church is in such chaos because we, the clergy, have lost our moral high ground. Even those who have not have been pulled down by those who have refused to live the priestly life.”
But this story is also a call for the laity to reflect on what golden calves they erect in their own lives. Where do you put your treasure? Your time? Your attention?
“Show me your checkbook and I’ll show you what you believe in,” Fr. Simon said. “You know, we’ve made a god of gold. We don’t want to have too many kids because it costs a lot of money, or, you know, we’ve got to be practical. I don’t do much in church because I work 40, 70, 80 hours a week.”
“We read in Second Corinthians that our generosity should not impoverish us. But, on the other hand, there should be a certain equality. It isn’t that everyone has to go about in poverty, but perspective. Don’t make a god out of gold.”
Listen to the full reflection below: