Pope Francis reflected on the impact of idols in Christian life in today’s homily at morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.
The morning Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop José Vitti of Curitiba in Brazil, Archbishop Juan Segura of Ibiza, Spain and Archbishop Chirayath Anthony of Sagar in India. Also present were staff from the Vatican Library as well as lay personnel from the Lateran University.
The Gospel recounted the scribe who asked Jesus “which is the first of all the commandments,” to which Jesus responds “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!” After the scribe’s approval of Christ’s response, Jesus says to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
Pope Francis explained the meaning of Christ’s response to the faithful, saying that Christ meant to say: “You know the theory very well,” but “you are still some distance from the Kingdom of God”, that is, you have to walk to transform this commandment into reality, because we profess God through our way of life.”
“Its not enough to say: ‘But I believe in God, God is the only God.’ Thats fine, but how do you live this out in your life’s journey? Because we can say, ‘The Lord is the only God, there is no other’, but then live as if He was not the only God and have other deities at our disposal … There is a danger of ‘ idolatry: idolatry, which is brought to us through the spirit of the world. And in this Jesus was clear: the spirit of the world, no. At the Last Supper he asks the Father to defend us from the spirit of the world, because the spirit of the world leads us to idolatry.”
By discovering our hidden idols, the Holy Father continued, one may “not be far from the kingdom of God.” Drawing an example from the Old Testament, where Jacob’s wife who hid an idol from her father’s house in her saddle. “We too have hid them in our saddle,” Pope Francis said. “But we have to look for them and we have to destroy them, because to follow God the only path is that of a love based on loyalty”
“And loyalty demands we drive out our idols, that we uncover them: they are hidden in our personality, in our way of life. But these are hidden idols mean that we are not faithful in love. The Apostle James, when he says, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God, begins by saying: ‘Adulterers!’. He gives out to us, but with that adjective: adulterers. Why? Because whoever is ‘friend’ of the world is an idolater, is not faithful to the love of God! The path that is not distant, that advances, moves forward in the Kingdom of God, is a path of loyalty which resembles that of married love.”
Pope Francis concluded his homily calling on the faithful to trust in the loyalty of Christ who “loves us so much.”
“We can now ask Jesus: ‘Lord, you who are so good, teach me to be this path so that every day I may be less distant from the kingdom of God, this path to drive out all of my idols’. It is difficult, but we must begin,” Pope Francis said. “The idols hidden in the many saddles, which we have in our personalities, in the way we live: drive out the idol of worldliness, which leads us to become enemies of God. We ask this grace of Jesus, today.”