Pope at General Audience: ‘Love incompatible with idolatry’
In his continued catechesis on the Ten Commandments at the Wednesday General Audience, Pope Francis warns against the temptation to idolatry present in modern society, saying the true God teaches us to love.

“Dear brothers and sisters: As we resume our catechesis on the Ten Commandments, we now consider the first commandment: “I am the Lord, your God… You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3). The Lord alone is God; he must be the ultimate centre of our lives and our values, rather than some object, image or idea of our own making. All of us are tempted to this kind of idolatry: to turn away from the true God and to fashion a false god that is no more than a projection of our own selfish desires. Such idols then demand our worship and sacrifices (cf. vv. 4-5). How often in our world does money become an idol to which we are willing to sacrifice our children, by ignoring them or even by refusing to bring them into the world? In the end, idols enslave; they promise a happiness that they simply cannot deliver. The worship of the true God, on the other hand, teaches us, in love, to find freedom, happiness and life in abundance. Let us ask for the grace to make God the centre of our lives, to reject every temptation to idolatry, and to open our eyes to the divine love that alone brings lasting joy and fulfilment.”

“I am the Lord, your God… You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3).

Pope Francis reflected on the first Commandment in his catechesis at the Wednesday General Audience, saying idolatry is a very real and current temptation.

“The commandment prohibits the making of idols or images of any sort. We are talking about a human tendency, which spares neither believers nor atheists.”

Modern idolatry

The Pope, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 2113), said idolatry “consists in divinizing what is not God.” He invited Christians to ask ourselves:

“What is really my God? Is it the One and Triune Love, or is it my own image, my personal success, even within the Church?”

Pope Francis said an idol is a “vision” that tends to become an obsession. “An idol is really a projection of the self onto an object or a project.”

He said advertising uses this dynamic to turn a car or a smartphone into “a way to respond to my existential needs” and to be happy.

Sacrifices to idols

Pope Francis said that, when everything in our lives is focused only on that object or idol, we become slaves.

“In ancient times human sacrifices were made to idols,” he said, “but even today people sacrifice their children for their careers, neglecting them or simply refusing to have them.”

He said idols require blood.

“Money robs us of life, and pleasure leads to loneliness. Economic structures sacrifice human lives for better profits. One lives in hypocrisy, doing and saying what others expect of us, because the god of self-affirmation imposes it. And lives are ruined; families are destroyed; and young people are abandoned to destructive habits, all to increase profit.”

Love vs. idolatry

God, said Pope Francis, “never requires life but gives it. The true God doesn’t offer a projection of our success, but teaches us to love.” Rather than asking us to sacrifice our children, he said, “God gives his Son for us.”

Finally, Pope Francis said God teaches us to live day-to-day rather than letting false idols deceive us into hoping only in the future.

Recognizing our tendency toward idolatry, “places us on the path towards love”, the Pope said.

“Love is incompatible with idolatry.”

By Devin Watkins

01 August 2018, 11:51

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