The passage that we heard from the Book of Revelation speaks to us of worship: the myriads of angels, all creatures, the living beings, the elders, prostrate themselves before the Throne of God and of the Lamb that was slain, namely Christ, to whom be praise, honour and glory (cf. Rev 5:11-14).
I would like all of us to ask ourselves this question: You, I, do we worship the Lord? Do we turn to God only to ask him for things, to thank him, or do we also turn to him to worship him? What does it mean, then, to worship God? It means learning to be with him, it means that we stop trying to dialogue with him, and it means sensing that his presence is the most true, the most good, the most important thing of all. All of us, in our own lives, consciously and perhaps sometimes unconsciously, have a very clear order of priority concerning the things we consider important. Worshipping the Lord means giving him the place that he must have; worshipping the Lord means stating, believing – not only by our words – that he alone truly guides our lives; worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that he is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history.
This has a consequence in our lives: we have to empty ourselves of the many small or great idols that we have and in which we take refuge, on which we often seek to base our security.
They are idols that we sometimes keep well hidden; they can be ambition, careerism, a taste for success, placing ourselves at the centre, the tendency to dominate others, the claim to be the sole masters of our lives, some sins to which we are bound, and many others.
This evening I would like a question to resound in the heart of each one of you, and I would like you to answer it honestly: Have I considered which idol lies hidden in my life that prevents me from worshipping the Lord? Worshipping is stripping ourselves of our idols, even the most hidden ones, and choosing the Lord as the centre, as the highway of our lives.
Pope Francis, Homily, April 14, 2013
Reflection – Well this is ‘classic Bergoglio’, I guess. Although I have to laugh a bit, still, that a man I had never even heard of a month ago I can now recognize characteristic themes and tonalities in his words. It has been a tumultuous month in the upper hierarchy of the Church, eh?
But here we are, with the classic Papafranciscan touch of blunt challenge and uncompromising call to take the Gospel seriously and do something about it. Do we worship God? Or do we worship money/position/fame/security/pleasure/etc ad nauseum?
Which is it, indeed? A hard question for each of us, but if we don’t answer it here and now we will indeed have to answer it in a much more difficult forum—the judgment seat of God, where all the tin idols will be smashed for good and for all, and only what is real and true will be left. Will you and I… be left? A serious question, and none of us can duck it, really.
Meanwhile, what does it mean to worship? It means to strip oneself of the false idols, Francis tells us. Now that’s really good, very practical, very sensible. When we decide that money/career/fame/pleasure/etc. are not the highest goods and make conscious choices for God against (or at least irrespective) of these goods, we are worshipping Him. We are choosing Him as the highest good, insofar as we sacrifice these other lesser goods for His sake.
This is why sacrifice is always and has always been at the heart of our religion. Not because God is a bloodthirsty tyrant demanding the death of myriads of sheep and cattle and then finally (because His wrath was not assuaged!!!!) of His own Son. No. We sacrifice because we are idolators and all these created goods are idols if we let them be, and we have to give them up in some fashion or other to enter the great truth of the created order, which is the worship of God.
And of course in our Christian dispensation this sacrifice occurs only and always and essentially through, with, and in the Lord Jesus. All is done through Him, as our priest who has made the sacrifice; with Him as our good shepherd who teaches us the path of sacrifice God desires, which the path of agape love; and in Him as we exercise our own priestly office given us in baptism to offer our whole bodies and souls as a consecrated offering to God.
Well that’s enough to chew on for one day, eh? See you tomorrow, and happy idol smashing (Hit that Baal out of the park! Whack-a-Moloch! Astarte? Stop!).