Monday, July 27, and Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Exodus 32:14-24.30.34; Matthew 13:31-35)

In a famous remark John Lennon once boasted that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.  It was the brash statement of a rebellious youth, but it did indicate the hold that idols have on people’s consciousness.  Just as the Beatles commanded the attention of young people fifty years ago, the golden calf stirs the imagination of the Israelites in the reading from Exodus today.

What could the people have possibly seen in the golden calf made with their own hands?  Is it the magnificence of gold that gleamed in their eyes or the vitality that the image of a calf conjures?  In any case the object is sinful because the first commandment of the Decalogue prohibited such images.  They are to rivet attention on God who can fulfill all their needs.

Like the Israelites people today often turn created things into idols.  Some talk about food as if they lived only to eat.  Others seem preoccupied with electronic devices – the last phone or computer.  We must be wary of such pursuits to keep God in the forefront of our minds.  Only He provides what is necessary for a life truly worth living.

Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary time

Exodus 33:7-11.34:5b-9.28; Matthew 13:36-43)
Years ago a movie entitled “The Bad Seed” showed an eight year-old girl twice committing murder.  It turned out that the child was the natural daughter of a serial killer.  The movie along with today’s gospel, which could be given the same title, asks the questions: Is the doing of evil predetermined by factors such as nature or, to take the contrary position, environment?  Or does each human person have a free will to choose right from wrong?
In the gospel Jesus uses a parable to illustrate why God allows evil to exist in the world.  He is not giving a philosophical discourse on its origins.  As the world knows, good and bad populate the earth simultaneously.  Jesus is saying that God allows the coexistence in order that the good may not be harmed in an attempt to eradicate evil.  But, he assures, in the end the good will remain and the wicked will be consumed. 

As research continually shows, both genetics and environment affect how we behave.  Yet there is a core choice that each person makes that supersedes these tendencies.  Those inclined toward aggressiveness can choose reconciliation.  Those raised in households virulent with lies can opt for the truth.  Christ will determine at the end of time the extent of each person’s achievement.  Our task is to pursue goodness as best as we can and to set example for others.