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Avoiding Idols

Homily for Thursday of the 4th Week of Lent

As we continue to wend our way through the Gospel of St. John, we may sometimes become numbed by the sheer length of Jesus’ soliloquies. Though all of the Gospels report the things that Jesus said during his lifetime, St. John’s Gospel is replete with speeches, debates, and arguments between Jesus and the Jewish elders, scribes, lawyers and Pharisees. Sometimes those passages seem to go around in circles. It helps to focus one’s attention on a specific line or thought when we use these passages as part of our prayer.

As I was reading today’s Gospel passage, I was drawn to one line of the Gospel that really impressed me. Jesus says: “You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.”

As a homilist, I spend a fair amount of time searching the Scriptures. I have also invested a great deal of time of reading various commentaries and explanations of the Scriptures. However, one thing that I learned a long time ago is that while knowledge of the Scriptures is an element of my faith, it is not the most important part of my faith. My relationship with Jesus is far more important than all the knowledge of the Scriptures in the world. So if studying the Scriptures does not lead me to turn my life over to Jesus, then it has been in vain. It is obvious that the Jewish leadership did not want to have such a relationship with him.

The reading from the Book of Exodus reminds us of graven images, idols. In this case, the idol was a golden calf. However, anything can become an idol. Some people have made an idol out of education. Others have idolized wealth or social status. However, if there is anything we should have learned from the Scriptures it is that we are called to follow Jesus first and foremost. Anything that distracts us from this places us in danger of wandering of the path to conversion of life.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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