08/01/2018, 15.28
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Pope: Idols promise life, but in reality they take life. True God does not ask for life but gives it

Pope Francis begins a new cycle of catechesis on the commandments. The theme of important idolatry for atheists and believers. Christians, tarot cards and palm readers to predict the future. "In ancient times human sacrifices were made to the idols, but also today: for the career some sacrifice their children, neglecting them or simply not generating them". "Money steals life and pleasure leads to loneliness. Economic structures sacrifice human lives for greater profits ". True God teaches us to live in the reality of every day. The invitation to an examination of conscience: "What is my idol? Take it off and throw it out the window. "


Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The idols promise life, but in reality they take it. True God does not ask for life but gives it" this was one of the most meaningful phrases that Pope Francis addressed to the pilgrims gathered in Paul VI hall for the general audience, in which he wanted to illustrate the" great scale and relevance" of the theme of idolatry.

Resuming his weekly appointments after a month's pause, Francis began today a new cycle of catechesis on the commandments and has focused his reflection on the first of the commandments: "You will have no other gods before me" (see Ex 20.3 -5a).

The pontiff stressed that "everything ... can be used as an idol. We are talking about a human tendency that does not spare believers or atheists ". "The human being - he said - The human being doesn’t live without centering himself on something.  So here is a world that offers a “supermarket” of idols, which can be objects, images, ideas, roles. For example, also prayer". And to the believers, the Pope addressed some questions: "we Christians can ask ourselves: who, truly, is my God? Is it the One and Triune Love or is it my image, my personal success, perhaps, within the Church? “Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God" .

To give some examples, Francis recalled an episode of his life as a bishop, when, after conferring confirmations, walking saw so many people who went to be read the papers. "how many of you have gone to have cards read to you to see the future? How many of you, for example, have gone to have your hands read to see the future, instead of praying to the Lord? This is the difference: the Lord is alive; the others are idols, idolatries that are useless".

Continuing in catechesis, the Pope spoke of the "phases" with which "an idolatry develops".

First of all "seeing". "An idol is a “vision,” which tends to become a fixation, an obsession. In reality, an idol is a projection of oneself in objects or in projects. Advertising, for example, makes use of this dynamic: I don’t see the object in itself but I perceive that car, that smartphone, that role — or other things — as a means to fulfil myself and of responding to my essential needs.  And I seek it, speak of it, think of it; the idea of possessing that object or of doing that project, attaining that position, seems a wonderful way to happiness, a tower to reach the heavens (Cf. Genesis 11:1-9), and everything becomes functional to that goal.


Then one enters the second phase: “You shall not bow down to them.” Idols exact worship, rituals: to them one bows down and sacrifices everything. In antiquity, human sacrifices were made to idols, but also today: children are sacrificed for a career, by neglecting them or simply not generating them; beauty calls for human sacrifices. How many hours <spent> in front of a mirror! Certain persons, certain women, how much <time> they spend putting on makeup?! This is also idolatry. It’s not bad to put on makeup, but in a normal way, not to become a goddess. Beauty calls for human sacrifices.  Fame calls for the immolation of oneself, of one’s innocence and authenticity. Idols ask for blood. Money robs life and pleasure leads to loneliness. The economic structures sacrifice human lives for greater profits. We think of so many people without work. Why? Because it happens sometimes that the entrepreneurs of that business, of that firm, have decided to lay-off people, to earn more money — the idol of money. One lives in hypocrisy, doing and saying what others expect, because the god of one’s affirmation imposes it. .

Drugs are also an idol. "How many young people ruin health and even life, adoring this drug idol? ".

The third and more tragic stage is that "idols enslave": "they promise happiness - he said - but they do not give it; and we find ourselves living for that thing or that vision, caught in a self-destructive vortex, waiting for a result that never comes. idols promise life, but in reality that take it away. The true God doesn’t ask for life but gives it, gifts it. The true God doesn’t offer a projection of our success, but teaches to love. The true God doesn’t ask for children, but gives His Son for us. Idols project future hypotheses and make one disdain the present; the true God teaches one to live in the reality of every day, in the concrete, not with illusions about the future: today and tomorrow and the day-after-tomorrow walking towards the future — the concreteness of the true God against the liquidity of idols".

"I invite you to think today: how many idols do I have and which is my favourite idol? — because to recognize one’s idolatries is a beginning of grace, and puts one on the way of love. In fact, love is incompatible with idolatry: if something becomes absolute and untouchable, then it’s more important than a spouse, a child, or a friendship. Attachment to an object or an idea makes one blind to love. And so to go after idols, <after> an idol, we can even renounce father, mother, children, wife, husband, family  — the dearest things. Attachment to an object or an idea makes one blind to love. Carry this in your heart: idols rob you of love, idols make you blind to love and to truly love it’s necessary to be free of idols. What is my idol? Take it out and throw it out of the window!"

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