It is not easy to believe in God. Too often we are distracted by other things, by temptations, and those that offer items that seems to be better than what God can offer. Many would think, why do we believe in God, who we can’t see and who we can’t touch? Is it not better to put our faith in something more tangible? Something that is closer to us?
That is the exact argument of the people of Israel, when they thought that God has abandoned them, on the Mount Horeb, when He called Moses up the mountain for a long time. The people of Israel chose to turn to worldly god, the golden calf, because it can be touched, it can be seen, and it can be said as ‘present’ among the people of Israel. Then God was angry, and He wanted to wipe this rebellious people out of the face of the earth, but Moses begged God for their sake and God relented.
How is this then different from what is happening in our world today? Many of us today also have our own false gods, not in the form of a golden calf, but in the form of the distractions that we have in our world today. From materialism, consumerism, emphasis on wealth and affluence, worldly power, and many other different forms of temptations.
With all these things surrounding us, we become less perceptive of the Lord God, and His presence in our world today. The attention which we should have given Him alone, is now divided towards the things that keep us away from His love. These are the golden calves that we have to face in our lives. Those false gods that have kept us away from enjoying the fullness of God’s love and graces.
That is why, at the time of Jesus, the people of Israel have failed to open their eyes and see, and even if their eyes were open, they could not see, because their hardened hearts have kept the Lord away from them. For Jesus, the Son of God, had been sent into this world, so that through Him, all the works and love of God will be made manifest to all mankind. Those who believe in Him and believe in the prophets who proclaimed His coming would believe, but many would not.
That is because for the many people, their pride and their arrogance had become their golden calves, that prevented them from seeing the Lord in truth, and instead accused and mocked Him. They preferred something tangible, like miracles and wonders, which they can see and believe in, so that they will worship Jesus as their Lord. But they have failed to realise that the true mission of the Lord is not such, and as we knew, God has shown many signs and others through His prophets before the comng of Jesus, but yet they have failed to listen.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us gathered here today have the benefit of listening the word of God, through the Holy Scripture, and through our priests, who teach us about the Lord and His mission in this world. And to all of us who had been baptised in the faith, we all have been promised great inheritance in heaven, if we remain faithful in God.
However, let us not be complacent, and let us strive to be not like the people of Israel, that is to remain faithful to God, and to turn not onto the false gods, in manner similar to that of the worship of the golden calf by most of the people of Israel. We should distance ourselves from these false gods, and began the path towards renewal in our faith towards our God.
To do that is to first be humble and be ready to lower ourselves before God, and not to blind ourselves with pride and arrogance, that with humility and faith in God, we will be able to see and recognise the Lord and His works in our daily lives. How to do this? None other than to have a constant prayer life, to pray continuously at all times, that God will empower us with faith in Him, that we can remain strong despite all the temptations the world places in our path.
And perhaps the best way is so that we will not be tempted to abandon God for something more ‘manifest’ and ‘tangible’ as in the false gods and the golden calf of Israel, is to make God truly manifest in our lives as well. There is nowhere better to make the Lord manifest, other than through the proper and solemn celebration of the Holy Mass. For in the Mass, we take part in the celebration of the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, in which the bread and wine are truly transformed into the very Precious Body and Blood of our Saviour, that the Lord becomes manifest, and this manifested Lord is who we receive into ourselves when we receive Holy Communion.
This is why it is important to have a proper and solemn celebration of the Mass, tainted as little as possible from external and worldly distractions, such as loud music, improper behaviour and conduct, and even the way we dress is important, since coming to the Mass is like coming to the Banquet of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Master of the Banquet, who is manifest in the Mass. As we are coming to be at God’s banquet, then we truly should prepare ourselves well, dress well and appropriately, and behave properly.
Remember the term ‘Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi’, which is when translated means, the way we worship determines the kind of faith that we have in us, and the faith that we have determines the kind of life that we will lead. If we do not approach the worship of the Mass with proper decorum and behaviour, how are we then to have a good faith in our Lord, who is indeed truly made manifest in the Mass through the Eucharist? Then if we have no faith, or little faith, our lives too will be barren, and we will be easily swayed and persuaded by the temptations of this world, to distance ourselves from our God.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us pray that we will be strengthened by God in our resolve to know Him better, to love Him more, and to have greater faith in Him. That we will be able to lead a strong prayerful life, that is supported by active participation in the Holy Mass, that we finally will know that we serve the living God, made manifest in the Eucharist, which He gives us to eat and drink, that we may have a part in His salvific mission. Amen.