ROME – Attachment to idols is a failure to trust totally in God – and to reject them, Catholics must accept their weaknesses, inviting Christ to heal their hearts, Pope Francis said Wednesday.
Healing from the attachment to idols comes from Jesus Christ, “who became poor, who accepted failure, who took our precariousness to the end to fill it with love and strength,” the pope said Aug. 8.
When we let Jesus Christ into our hearts, “we discover that recognizing our weakness is not the misfortune of human life, but it is the condition to open up to who is really strong.”
“Then God’s salvation enters through the door of weakness…” he continued. “Man’s freedom arises from letting the true God be the only Lord. And this allows us to accept our own fragility and reject the idols of our hearts.”
For his weekly general audience, Francis spoke on what he called the “very important” topic of idols, begun the previous week, and part of a larger series of catechesis on the Ten Commandments.
“Everything,” the pope said, “stems from the inability to trust above all in God, to place our safety in Him, to let Him give true depth to the desires of our heart. Without God’s primacy one easily falls into idolatry and is content with meager assurances.”
His catechesis reflected on a passage from the Book of Exodus, in which the Israelites, who were awaiting the return of Moses from the mountain where he would receive the Ten Commandments, fashioned a golden calf and began worshipping it as a god.
The context of this story, the desert, has its own precise meaning, Francis said. “What is the desert? It is a place where uncertainty and insecurity reign – there is nothing in the desert – where there is no water, there is no food and there is no shelter.”
He said the image of the desert represents the uncertainty and lack of guarantee found in human life and noted that the anxiety of life’s unpredictability, or feeling God is not present, can lead people to cling to false, or “custom-made” gods, like the Israelites did with the golden calf.
In the end, the pope said, God’s greater work was not freeing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt but removing “idolatry from the heart of the people.”
“And yet God continues to work to remove it from our hearts. This is the great work of God: to take away ‘that Egypt’ that we carry within, which is the charm of idolatry.”
“He comes to reveal to us the fatherhood of God; in Christ our fragility is no longer a curse, but a place of encounter with the Father and the source of a new strength from above,” he said.