Daily Lenten Prayer from the Jesuit School of Theology

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—15 March 2018—
Thursday of the 4th week of Lent
Exodus 32:7-14; Psalm 106; John 5:31-47

Today we are offered a simple but challenging invitation to take a closer look at what or who it is that we worship. In today’s story from Exodus, the people have “turned aside from the way [God] pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it, sacrificing to it and crying out, ‘This is your God’…” We might read this think: ‘Well, I haven’t made any molten calves lately, so we’re all good there.’ However, when we take a moment to look more deeply, we might ask ourselves: where and on what (or whom) is our gaze focused?

David Foster Wallace once remarked, “In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships.” He went on to say that most of the things we spend our time worshipping, unfortunately, eat us alive. Our own beauty, sexual allure, power, intellect - when we put these things at the center, we feel perpetually unworthy. We forget that we are loved and held by God and put on this earth to be salt and light for each other and for the World.

While I haven’t built any molten calves this Lent, I have experienced moments of being eaten alive, where my focus was more on how I can impress or please the people around me - my colleagues, my classmates, my romantic partner - than on how I might be able to more fully express God’s love in the world. In these moments, I have forgotten “the God who saved [me],” the God who holds and loves me first and calls me to love others more freely. In the Gospel, Jesus asks us, “How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?”

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Jesus, help me be your hands, your feet, your heart, and your mouth. Help me see the world as you do. Give me the senses to hear, feel, and touch your Grace and the resilience to look for life, even in the midst of darkness. Amen.