FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
July 31, 2017
Today’s reading: Exodus 32:15-34
The chosen people of God, the Israelites, were disobedient, rebellious and idolatrous. With Moses speaking to God at Mount Sinai, the Israelites had fashioned a golden calf and were worshiping it. Many of God’s people today, the Christians, are like them. As Aaron said, “the people are prone to evil.” (v.22b).
Aaron, Moses’ brother, was entrusted with the care of God’s people while Moses was away, but did not do anything to prevent the people. In fact, he was responsible in coming up with the golden calf. The Israelites had said, “Make us a god to go before us” (v.23a). Aaron then said, “So I told them, ‘Whoever is wearing gold, take it off.’ They gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out.” (v.24). Wow, talk about a lame, but creative, excuse! Unfortunately, many clerics today are also like Aaron. They go along with people’s sins, as they exercise political correctness. They do not properly instruct the faithful. They do not strongly preach and defend the faith. They, as pastors and shepherds, are in effect mainly responsible for idolatry (choosing mammon over God) in people’s lives.
Then there were the Israelites who opposed Moses, the man of God. Seeing the people running wild and Aaron having lost control was “to the secret delight of their foes.” (v.25). Today there are many such Christians, in parishes, organizations and communities. They oppose the leadership, plot against the leadership, delight when the leaders lose control. They would rather have disorder and disunity, even to the point of breaking up the community, just to have a chance to have their way.
But Moses, the man of God, knew what to do. He looked for the faithful remnant. “Moses stood at the gate of the camp and shouted, ‘Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!’ All the Levites then rallied to him” (v.26). Then he did something bold and decisive. He had the Levites run through the camp and kill the idolaters (v.27-28). This was very much in line with God’s instructions as they took the promised land, even if the idolaters were His own people. While we would not kill grave unrepentant sinners today (that would wipe out a majority of Christians), the principle is valid today. The purity of the body of Christ must be preserved, at all costs. Otherwise the rot spreads and deepens.
What was the cost? Moses told the Levites to “kill your brothers, your friends, your neighbors!” (v.27c). And they did. “The Levites did as Moses had commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people fell.” (v.28). The Levites were zealous for the true worship of God. Not even family relations or friendships could stand in the way. As Jesus himself has said, “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:26). The Semitic use of “hate” means to “love less,” that is, the disciple’s family must take second place to the absolute dedication required in following Jesus. That is not the case with many Christian leaders today.
What happened next? Moses installed the levitical priesthood. “Today you are installed as priests for the Lord, for you went against your own sons and brothers” (v.29a). They had proven themselves. God was first and foremost. Serious wrongdoing, especially idolatry, would not be condoned. Moses told them their act would “bring a blessing upon yourselves this day.” (v.29b). Certainly not just for that day, but for all time.
The Levites were warriors; now they were priests. They were holy warriors! There is a dire need today in our Church for such. Many Catholics are running wild, and many Church leaders have lost control, or worse, like Aaron are mainly responsible for the chaos and infidelity.
The trumpets have been sounded. The Mosaic call is being shouted: “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!” Arise, holy warriors!
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