Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Worship God Alone

Worship God Alone

July 11, 2012

Memorial of Saint Benedict, abbot

By Colleen O'Sullivan

Israel is a luxuriant vine whose fruit matches its growth.  The more abundant his fruit, the more altars he built; The more productive his land, the more sacred pillars he set up.  Their heart is false, now they pay for their guilt; God shall break down their altars and destroy their sacred pillars.  Then they shall cry out to the mountains, “Cover us!”  and to the hills, “Fall upon us!”  “Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety; break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain down justice upon you.”. (Hosea 10:1-2, 8b, 12)

Sing to him, sing his praise,
Proclaim all his wondrous deeds. 
Gory in his holy name;
Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord.
(Psalm 102:2-3)


Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
all I have and call my own.
You have given all to me. 
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.


I find it difficult to point the finger of blame at Israel as depicted by Hosea in today’s first reading.  Reading the prophet’s description of this “luxuriant vine” is too much like looking in the mirror.  Israel was riding high.  Times were good.  Prosperity abounded in the Northern Kingdom.  And the better the standard of living, the more Israel came to worship at the altars of false gods.

Sounds all too familiar.  When things are “under control” and going well in my life, how quickly I forget to thank the Lord.  I, too, can be found at the wrong altar, usually worshipping my own abilities - to multi-task, organize my time or whatever.

But something always happens to remind me that I am not God.  Hosea says that the Lord will break down all the altars to idols and, on that day, Israel will wish they could be covered and hidden by the mountains.  I know that feeling.  That’s when I crawl back to God and beg for his forgiveness, confessing that I’ve forgotten you are my Lord and that everything I have comes from you.


When I was a child learning the Ten Commandments, I thought there wasn’t a chance in this world I’d ever erect an altar to an idol, because the first commandment, “I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange gods before me,” elicited images of massive stone altars and statues of strange-looking idols.  Little did I know as a child that one doesn’t have to be a stone mason to erect an altar and worship a false god.

Try praying the Suscipe prayer today.  I pray it almost every day.  It’s a good antidote to idolatry.  I only hope that someday I will mean every word of it with all my heart.

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