One of my favorite Lenten readings is from the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of Hours as we make our way once again through the Book of Exodus. Today’s selection (32:1-20) calls to mind the impatience of Israel waiting for Moses to return from his Mount Sinai encounter with God.
During the 40 days that God spends revealing the ten commandments, the people of Israel convince themselves that Moses is not returning. They convince Aaron to ‘make a god’ for them, since the God of Moses seems to have abandoned them. Lets sit with that thought for a moment…
Make us a god… This is the request of the people who have just received freedom from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. These are the same people who witnessed the powerful hand of God at work in turning the staff into a serpent, water into blood, the various plagues sent against Egypt; frogs, gnats, flies, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the death of the firstborn.
Lest we forget, this is the same God who divided the Red Sea so they could pass safely from harm of Pharaoh and his chariots and horsemen. This is the same God who in the desert brought them quail and manna for food and water from the rock.
This passage along with such remembrances always makes me reflect on how quick we can be to forget the marvelous deeds of God in our own time. Because of the mysterious ways of God, it is precisely during periods when we think God has forgotten us, (as the Israelites did when Moses was delayed in returning to them) that He is most at work in hidden ways (such as revealing the ten commandments to Moses.)
God is clearly the One who takes the initiative in the world, and in each of our lives. We are clearly created (by God) for communion with God. This means we are spiritual, religious people by nature. We clearly exist for God, which means our life is a call of loving service to God. Our best interest is always served in discovering God’s will for us, and in giving our self fully, freely, and loving to carrying out this divine plan.
God does not exist for us, in the sense that we make our own god, and determine the ‘religion’ that animates this god. Lent is a time to reflect upon God and His ways. Lent is a time to think about what some of those false gods of our own time may be, and how we have allowed these man made ‘religions’ to draw us away from what truly gives life, namely, the Word that comes forth from the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)