How to Avoid Injuries from Falling Idols

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Pop culture pumps out idols on demand, like a factory makes widgets. In either case, (widgets or idols), without quality control, the end product can do a lot of damage. Idols are placed on high pedestals for all to see, but if their base lacks integrity, their inevitable fall damages both the idol and those who position themselves beneath them.

It can be heartbreaking to learn someone you idolized didn’t live up to the qualities you saw in them—especially if you were modeling yourself after them. In this Sunday’s first reading (Jer 17:5-8), the prophet Jeremiah summarizes a truth as relevant today as it was then:

Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD.

The result of such a turn for the worse can be messy. Let’s face it, LIFE is messy—which happens to be the title of a book written by someone many Catholics idolize: Matthew Kelly. In it, Kelly offers enough evidence from his own life to rescue such readers from the effects of that idolization.  HOWEVER…

One section of this book summarizes why we Christians can still take comfort in idolizing the person whose name has come to characterize our belief system. Enemies of that system have devoted their lives to debunking the divinity of Jesus, but as Kelly reasons, “Even if you could prove to me that Jesus never existed, I would still believe that his teachings propose the best way to live.”

For Kelly, the divinity of the Christian life boils down to four absolutes: honesty, unselfishness, purity and love. For us, when we live this philosophy, we BECOME Christ to each other. Our life in Christ gives us life beyond death—in the lives of those we’ve loved. That transcendent love can be a wake-up call for those souls whom pop culture has lulled into a mind-numbing sleep through this life, as Paul tells the sleeping souls of Corinth in this Sunday’s second reading (1 Cor 15:12, 16-20):

If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Luke’s gospel (Lk 6:17, 20-26) introduces us to a Jesus who KNOWS that the earthbound enemies of his heavenly philosophy will try to debase it until the end of time. But as long as we live it, it will live. Jesus says:

Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.

The fact we’re still reading the words and living the philosophy of Jesus and the prophets who preceded him proves the security of the rock-solid foundation on which Christ built his church.

–Tom Andel

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