Always a drama queen, she threw her books across the room, slammed herself against the school green concrete wall, pounded her fists and cried. Within moments, a flock of friends surrounded her, offering comfort, support, even adoration. Of course, she deserved more. Of course, he was wrong. Of course, she was right. Her behavior rivaled any two-year old tantrum, as she demanded the world revolve around her. Her ego dictated that others worship her—the all-important “I.”
The First Sunday of Lent drives us into the desert to face the stark question: Whom do you worship? Elizabeth Scalia, writes in StrangeGods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life: “… how convenient it is that the word idol begins with i.” She reflects on the Israelites’ worship of the golden calf: “The reflective gold gave them admiration of their strength and greatness, which they could confirm with their own eyes, mirrored back at them.” By peering into the looking glass, they were able to worship self. Since Adam and Eve, we have chosen self over the God who created, freed, and saved us.
Often unnoticed, unintentional, and even disguised as a good, we worship the “I.” We worship our freedom and declare, “I choose;” we worship our stomachs and claim, “I want;” we worship our rights and demand, “I deserve.” According to Scalia, we worship the “super-idol”—our ideas—and defend our Ideologies, even until death. We worship ourselves and boldly assert, “I AM.”
Lent attempts to draw us out of self-adoration to the worship of the Living God. Scalia asserts, “The key to the Christian life begins with confronting and amending the self, rather than indulging it.” Resisting the temptation to worship anything—anyone—other than self requires humility, sacrifice, and surrender to the will of God. “Such surrender is the ultimate disenthrallment and the banisher of all idols, even the super idols.”
As parents/grandparents, we name grace by affirming our children are deeply and infinitely loved, but NOT the center of the universe. We name grace as we model humility and resist the temptation to be right, first, or best. We name grace when we humbly pray at home and when we bring our children to the perfect worship of the Mass. We name grace as we teach our children God’s commandment, “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.”
Though the tantrum of a two-year old may seem cute as he or she struts around like a little dictator, it becomes much less attractive as he or she eventually wreaks havoc by demanding to be worshipped. Some people spend their entire lives worshipping self and expecting others to bow to their ideas, choices, wishes, and desires.
When we confess Jesus Christ as Lord, place our gifts at the altar, and bow to worship Him in the Eucharist, we give the One, True, God all honor, power, and glory. Though we at times revert to childish ways, we can trust that Jesus, whose very name is mercy, will accept us back—if we but humbly surrender to His Lordship. Now, that’s good news!
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.