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The Idols of Waiting

First Reading: Exodus 32:15-24, 30-34

And Moses turned, and went down from the mountain with the two tables of the testimony in his hands, tables that were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other were they written. And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tables out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it upon the water, and made the people of Israel drink it. And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought a great sin upon them?” And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot; you know the people, that they are set on evil. For they said to me, `Make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And I said to them, `Let any who have gold take it off’; so they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and there came out this calf.” On the morrow Moses said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Alas, this people have sinned a great sin; they have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if thou wilt forgive their sin — and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” But the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. But now go, lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 106:19-23

They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a molten image. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass. They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt, wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red Sea. Therefore he said he would destroy them — had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them.

Gospel: Matthew 13:31-35

Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”

ESV

july 27

Waiting is hard.

It is hard to have a dream or a goal driving you, inspiring you and promised to you and then be told . . . wait.

I feel like I’ve spent a good portion of my life waiting. Waiting to go to that school, waiting to get married, waiting to take that trip, waiting for that raise or promotion, waiting for the next set of lines on that pregnancy test, and waiting is hard.

I almost feel a twinge of sympathy for the Jews following Moses in today’s reading. They were given big promises; they were promised the Holy Land, deliverance, and then told to wait. They had to wait for Moses to show up, wait for Moses to free them from Pharaoh, wait for Moses on his trip up the mountain. It must have been hard, and so frustrating. Here is this good thing, but you can’t have it yet. How much easier it to say “I’m done waiting. Forget this, I’m going to do what I want to do. I’m going to get some instant gratification.”

That is what they did. Tired of waiting they turned to instant gratification and in that moment they literally created a false idol.

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t turned around and melted my jewelry down to make a statue. But I’ve probably created more than a few false idols in my impatience. Idols of laziness when it feels like my efforts go unrecognized. Idols of envy of other people’s things. Idols of snarky remarks and hasty words. Idols of shopping cleverly disguised as “therapeutic” means to get over a problem. All of this happens when we turn our eyes away from the work that is done through waiting; the discipline that is accomplished in the meantime.

“Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus. We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps.

Waiting for God is an active, alert—yes, joyful—waiting. As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.”—Henri Nouwen

Today let’s examine what we are waiting for. Let’s take a close look at why were are waiting and what we are called to do, how we can wait with conviction. Let us realize that some of the fruits of our labors come in the meantime and learn to recognize the idols we make for ourselves that distract us from God while He is helping instill passion, perseverance, and hope in our souls.

photo by Corynne Olivia Photography

Molly Walter is a wife, mother and homemaker (with a pesky job outside the home). She shares about making the life she wants with the life she’s been given over here.

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