August 27th, 2007
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When my son, Raj, was in junior high school, students at our Catholic
school were free to choose only their shoes. Raj could recite what
brand of shoes every boy in his class wore and he desperately wanted
a pair of Air Jordan’s. He would study them lovingly whenever
we went to the mall until I finally broke down and bought him a
pair. Ironically Raj discovered that Air Jordan’s were just
shoes. He never asked for another pair. He was cured of this case
of “idol worship.”
Today’s readings lead us to contemplate what idols we worship.
In the first reading, St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that they
“turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God
and to await his Son from heaven”; in the Gospel, Jesus attacks
the Scribes and Pharisees for turning the incidentals of religious
practice into a form of idol worship.
I asked myself what are our modern equivalents of false idols and
more specifically, what false idols do I inadvertently worship.
My first image was that of a parking lot filled with luxury cars.
But this was too easy since I don’t even want a fancy car.
The same goes for mansions, diamond jewelry and anything else that
costs a bundle. These could be some peoples’ idols, just not
mine. Conversely I know people who drive BMWs and Porsches but don’t
idolize them any more than I idolize my 1999 Acura; it’s not
the possessions per se that determine idol worship.
The issue is what things and activities other than God and service
to others obsess us. How miserly are we with our money and our time?
Do our jobs or hobbies consume us to the point that they have become
idols? Are we willing to share our time, talent and treasure with
others? How inflexible are our routines?
Here’s a test: if I had to change XXX, what would REALLY upset
me? The answer will help you identify your idols whether this turns
out to be the horrifying prospect of ever retiring (workaholics
like me), being unable to play golf or having to skip working out
every morning before work. We all have at least one “idol.”
It’s good to love our jobs and homes and to enjoy our hobbies
but only if we remember that these relatively unimportant things
eventually will be taken from us. At that point, will we find that
we have worshiped them or God? Is it time to start getting our priorities
to the writer of this reflection.
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