Beware of following fantasies and false idols, for only God loves us and waits for us like a father.
That was Pope Francis’ message at Mass on Thursday morning in the Casa Santa Marta.
Commenting on the First Letter from the Book of Exodus, the Holy Father focused on God’s love for His people, despite their infidelity. Even today, he said, it is good for us to ask whether we distance ourselves from the Lord to follow after idols and worldliness.
Pope Francis took inspiration from the Book of Exodus to reflect on the “dreams and disappointments of God”. The people, he said, is “God’s dream. He dreamed of them because he loved them.” But the people betrayed the Father’s dreams and so God “began to be disappointed,” asking Moses to come down from the mountain where he had gone to receive the Law. The people “did not have the patience to wait for God” for even 40 days. They had made themselves a golden calf and “they forgot God who had saved them”.
Temptation to infidelity towards God
The prophet Baruc, Pope Francis said, “had a good expression for this people: ‘You have forgotten the One who reared you’”.
“To forget God who made us, who raised us, and who accompanies us in our lives: this is the disappointment of God. And many times in the Gospel Jesus speaks in parables about that man who builds a vineyard, which then fails, because the workers want to take it for themselves. In the human heart there is always this restlessness! It is not satisfied with God, with faithful love. The human heart always tends towards infidelity. This is a temptation.”
God is “disappointed” by the infidelity of His people who go after idols
God, therefore, “through the prophet rebukes this people”, which “is inconstant and does not know how to wait”. They go astray from God to seek another god.
“The disappointment of God is the infidelity of the people… And we are God’s people. We know well how [the dispositions] of our heart, and every day we must take up again the path so as not to slide slowly towards idols, fantasies, worldliness, and infidelity. I think it would do us good today to reflect on the disappointed Lord: ‘Tell me, Lord, are you disappointed in me?’ In something, yes, surely. But reflect, and ask yourself this question.”
Reflect in Lent whether we have distanced ourselves from God
God, Pope Francis affirmed, “has a tender heart, the heart of a father”. He recalled that Jesus wept “over Jerusalem”. Let us ask ourselves, he said, if “God weeps for me”, if “He is disappointed in me”, and if “I have distanced myself from the Lord”. He asked aloud, “How many idols do I have, which I am unable to remove, which make me a slave? The idolatry that we have within us… And God weeps for me.”
“Let us reflect today on this disappointment of God, who created us for love, whilst we go in search of love, of wellbeing elsewhere and not in His love. We distance ourselves from this God who raised us. This is a thought for Lent. It will do us good. Do this small examination of conscience daily: ‘Lord, you who have so many dreams for me, I know that I have gone away from you, but tell me where and how to return…’ The surprise will be that He ever awaits us, like the father of the prodigal son who saw him from afar, because he was waiting for him.”