Saturday, January 10, 2015

Be On Your Guard

We know that we belong to God, and the whole world is under the power of the Evil One.  We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us discernment to know the one who is true.  And we are in the one who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ.  He is the true God and eternal life.  Children, be on your guard against idols.  1 John 5:19-21

“The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.  So this joy of mine has been made complete.  He must increase; I must decrease.”  John 3:29-30

In a relatively rare occurrence, we get a double serving of poetic Johannine Christianity in both the first and second reading – part of the first letter of John along with the Gospel of John.  Scholars attribute this letter and the fourth Gospel to the Apostle John and his school of theology.  The letter was written because the community was having debates and to “combat certain false ideas, especially about Jesus, and to deepen the spiritual and social awareness of the Christian community.”

Based on the arguments put forth, the community must have been distracted by “idols.”  This has been a perpetual issue from Adam until today.  Even in ancient civilization, people put things ahead of God. 

An interesting term “idols.”  When I was growing up, the term usually brought to mind symbols of more rustic societies such as Stonehenge or the monuments/heads on Easter Island.  However, when we consider the Creed or the commandments, the very foundation of our faith is that there is One God and we should put nothing above God in our lives.  Over time, our idols (temptations) may change but we must reject them so that the presence of God in our lives increases while the ego (self) or others must decrease.  As taught in the Catechism 2113:
Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, Satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. 

It seems like the sole purpose of commercial marketing is to get us to put something before God.  Do you have the top ten fitness apps on your device?  Do you have a device glued to your eyeballs right now?  Are you trying to determine if you can buy a newer car, a bigger house or protect and grow your retirement or investing account?

Recently, four American cities all prepared (multi-million dollar public relations campaigns) proposals to be the US entry in the competition to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.  The city selected to put forth the United States bid is Boston.  According to the New York Times, “Lofty talk about the Olympics as an opportunity to transform Boston must be balanced against history. And it suggests that Boston’s preliminary $4.5 billion budget would trampoline. And any residual benefit from hosting the Games would likely be as ephemeral as a rhythmic gymnastics routine. Studies suggest only scattered evidence of long-term growth and economic benefit. During the 2012 Summer Games, tourism in London decreased instead of increased.”

FOUR POINT FIVE BILLION DOLLARS.  To host a two-week-long sports festival.  Boston’s budget was right in line with the costs projected by the other three finalists – Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Purely as a commercial enterprise, there is no guarantee that the bid will succeed and if it does that the city will make a profit on the experience.  Think back to Atlanta 1996 and bombings and traffic and other nightmares.

Will hosting the Summer Games really be a good use of that amount of money?  What if the civic committees put together a plan to end homelessness by building an Olympic Village for everyone who has no place to sleep at night?  Cities have decided that investing such obscene amounts of money in this is good for what?  Civic pride?  Personal ego?  World-class status?

Children, be on your guard against idols. 

He must increase; I must decrease.

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