Thursday of the Fourth Week in Lent
(Exodus 32:7-14; John 5:31-47)
“The world is too much with us,” the poet William Wordsworth lamented two hundred years ago. If anything, the presence of the mundane has increased in the interim. Because of its inherent goodness, the world has been first glorified and then idolized. Thus, we see many people hankering after the super-lottery and new pharmaceutical aphrodisiacs.
Of course, the condition is much more than two centuries old. It befalls the Israelites in the desert as the reading from Exodus today indicates. The golden calf stands at once for God and a pagan deity. Its luster is supposed to convey the awesomeness of God, but, defying God’s prohibition of craven images, the calf becomes a testament to the human inclination to divinize wayward desires.
As Moses pleads with God for mercy toward the Israelites, Jesus argues with the people to accept his testimony. His miracles have shown that he is from God. His words have transmitted divine wisdom. But the people, forever desirous of demonstrations of power, fail to recognize Jesus’ prophecy. Heeding his arguments, we need to do better. We not only have to accept Jesus as God’s emissary but have to recognize him as “true God from true God,” to be followed completely and unreservedly.