May 20, 2020 : Wednesday – 6th week of Easter
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052020.cfm)
The Community Quarantine and Lockdowns caused the closing of malls, shops, small and big businesses. We are all asked to “stay at home” as a preventive and protective measure against the Corona Virus. At the beginning of this “stay at home,” more and more people also found ways to entertain themselves while staying at home. One of the most popular entertainments that one could easily observe now is how people where drawn towards their screens to watch South Korean Drama Series.
Somehow, the audiences “idolized” South Korean actors and actresses because of their good looks, good acting qualities and the good chemistry that a particular couple show in a movie. With these qualities of South Korean actors and actresses, they captured their audiences internationally. They are truly entertaining that netizens began to post on Facebook mimicking how South Koreans speak, dressing and wearing make-up just like famous South Korean actors and actresses do, posting memes and short clips of the series they have watched. This craze is all over Facebook.
This form of idolizing an actor or actress or a culture is a kind of admiration. However, there is another form of having idols that can be pretty serious. This is what St. Paul identified in our first reading today.
Paul was in Athens and saw the many idols the Athenians had. The Greeks were known to have many gods and goddesses. Yet, Paul also realized how deeply religious the people were because of that expression. But what touched Paul the most was the shrine dedicated to the “Unknown god.” With this, Paul being a witness and apostle of the Risen Jesus had the responsibility to introduce the Athenians to the one True God.
Paul preached to them about Jesus, the Son of God, who became like us, and who lived among us. For it is through Jesus that we are saved by dying on the cross and by rising from the dead. However, this is the very reason as well why many of the Athenians did not believe him, only few of them.
Many could not accept that kind of God who died for us and was being resurrected. This was something beyond their imagination and beyond any human explanation. But what hindered them also to believe was their own absorption of their many idols, of their many gods. This was something, they could not give up.
This form of “idolizing” was not a mere admiration but rather, obsession.
Though this happened long time ago, yet, at present this reality is still happening. Idolatry is still creeping in our culture today. We are still somehow captivated by some idols in one way or another that make God a lesser priority, making our Christian life and faith less significant. We may ask, in what way then?
When a thing or a person is being loved, wanted, desired and even treasured and enjoyed “more” than God to the point that we have become obsessed, then this could be the “idol” that we worship. That could be your boyfriend or girlfriend or even your good looks. It could be the approval of other people, your attractiveness that tend to seek recognition from others. It could also be your successful career or business or work. Or could be your own passion in sports or any hobbies.
Nonetheless, reflecting on these, they are actually not evil or bad in themselves. These things are good but they become bad when they do not serve the purpose – which is to be closer to God, by knowing him better, by being grateful to him and by being generous to others.
In one way or another, these forms of idolatry are also forms of addictions in us. It means that we may tend to be selfish, prioritizing only our own satisfaction – as a result, we will become insecure and not free at all because we are imprisoned by our own obsessions.
This is not what God wants us to be. God wants us to be free by knowing and loving him more and more. And so, let us remember what Jesus told us in the Gospel. “The spirit of truth will lead us; the spirit will guide us to discover God and know him better.”
What do those words mean to us now? Jesus wants us to pray, to converse with God truly and that is not just to tell God what we “want” but also to ask God what God “wants” for us; not my own “selfish desires”, but to ask what is “God’s desire for me.”
Today, I would like to ask you to include in your prayers, to ask God to help us identify our actions, attitudes or things that preoccupy us. This may hopefully lead us to recognize our “idols” that hinder us to know God better, to be closer to Him and that continually prevent us to be generous to others.
Let us ask, then, the guidance and prayers of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, who is a model for all of us. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR