Readings: Exodus 32:7-14, Ps. 106:19-23, John 5:31-47

“Go down; for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.” (Exodus 32:7)

In today’s First Reading, the children of Israel, having lived with the Egyptians for more than four hundred years and had become used to serving visible gods, pressurised Aaron to make a golden calf against the first commandment. To grant this desire for a visible God, God manifested Himself in Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the Jewish authorities refused to accept Jesus (and wanted him dead) because, for them, God is too great to be visible. What is wrong with us? What do we want? An invisible God that appears far removed from our everyday life or a God we can interact with daily? Let us now examine other lessons in today’s readings:

1. Learn to be Patient with God: They thought Moses was dead and wanted to move on. Do you think God is dead or asleep? We live in a fast-paced world; we rush from morning to night. We have lost the virtue of patience. We even unconsciously give God deadlines when we pray. This is because once we have prayed for a particular favour for quite some time and do not get it, we stop praying. We conclude that God is incapable, and we start looking for alternatives. How do you feel if someone you love treats you as an alternative?

2. Leadership is Not about Giving People What They Want: One of the flaws of democracy is that those with the loudest voices determine the future of others. Could it be that a few people started that riot that led to Aaron making the golden calf? As a leader, you must feed your people and ensure they eat healthily. Just as no mother will give her child a dangerous object because he is crying for it, leadership requires discernment.

3. Whatever Takes God’s Place is an Idol: We may point fingers at the Israelites, but we only need to look carefully to see the golden calves we have erected around us. Humans tend to turn their most-priced possessions into gods. For the Israelites, it was their gold ornaments. For many today, it is our expensive car (or fleet of cars), wardrobe (containing all kinds of shoes, clothes, wristwatches, etc., items we never use but adore and polish daily). Those things you don’t need and you cannot give them out (use them to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, etc.) are your idols. Seeing these things may give you joy but cannot save you.

4. Sins against the Sixth Commandment: As a stamp of their rejection of God, the people of Israel got up to engage in bodily corruption. Why has pornography become so rampant on social media? Why are skit makers only interested in comedies and jokes revolving around sexual themes? Like the Israelites who partook in orgies to celebrate the golden calf, many Christians today are convinced that sex is just a recreational activity, something we do to relax or simply for fun. Some of us believe that God has no right to dictate what we do with our bodies or how we dress in public.

5. Like Moses, Pray (Intercede) for Sinners: Having seen all that they were doing, God addressed them as Moses’ people. God threatened to destroy them for their sins. Have we not done worse than these Israelites? We all deserve death. As Moses pleaded for the Israelites, learn to pray for those you consider sinners. Do not wish anyone death; the judgment you give is the judgment you receive. Praying for sinners is powerful because not only does it remind you of your sinfulness, but it is also capable of changing God’s plan.

6. Jesus’ Witnesses: Addressing the Jews, Jesus tells them that by their failure to recognise him as God, they only proved their ignorance of God. Jesus reminded them of the witness of John the Baptist and how he pointed him out as the Lamb of God. Jesus also mentions other witnesses, such as the works (miracles) he did, the scriptures, and Moses. If, at this point, you are still not convinced that Jesus is God, nothing else can.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, may I not be carried away by the multitude who have rejected you in our world today. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Thursday of the 4th week of Lent. Bible Study: Exodus 32:7-14, Ps. 106:19-23, John 5:31-47).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu