Tuesday 24th March – Tuesday of the 5th week of Lent

Reflection: Numbers 21: 4-9


Catholics are often accused of disobeying God’s commandment: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything …you shall not bow to them or serve them…” (Ex 20:4-5). Was God’s simply prohibiting the carving of images used in worship? Why did He ask Moses to make a bronze serpent for the Israelites to look up to for healing in today’s reading and to build the Ark of the Covenant and the Cherubim over the mercy seat? He not only gave the instruction but the very details of how these images used in worship should be made (Exodus 25: 1-22)! Was God confused or contradicting Himself? Certainly not!

God’s commandment was not a prohibition of images used in worship. Rather, it is a prohibition of idolatry. Just as the bronze serpent and the Ark of the Covenant were not to be worshipped but were symbols to arouse faith in the Israelites so are the images such as the crucifix, the statues of our Blessed Mother and the Saints etc. that we have in our Churches. These images are not to be worshipped but serve to arouse faith in God as we put our minds on whom or what they symbolize. You and I would never be able to imagine and appreciate Christ’s crucifixion had we not seen images of the crucifix.

Beloved, let the images you see truly stir faith in you. Let the crucifix increase your love and commitment to Christ who suffered for you; let our Blessed Mother’s statue remind you to always say “yes” to God and “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5); let the statues of the Saints remind you of your own call to holiness. As you do this do not be afraid to explain and defend your beautiful faith in love and gentility.

PRAYER: Lord I thank you for the gift of my faith; please help me to draw close to you through the symbols and images I find around me. Amen.

KNOW YOUR FAITH: CCC 2132 – The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, “the honour rendered to an image passes to its prototype” and “whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.” The honour paid to sacred images is a “respectful veneration,” not the adoration due to God alone.

HIDE A TREASURE: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7 RSV-CE

Today’s Readings: Numbers 21: 4-9; Psalm 102: 2-3, 16-21; John 8: 21-30


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