The Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go down now, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have apostatised. They have been quick to leave the way I marked out for them; they have made themselves a calf of molten metal and have worshipped it and offered it sacrifice. “Here is your God, Israel,” they have cried “who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘I can see how headstrong these people are! Leave me, now, my wrath shall blaze out against them and devour them; of you, however, I will make a great nation.’
But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘why should your wrath blaze out against this people of yours whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with arm outstretched and mighty hand? Why let the Egyptians say, “Ah, it was in treachery that he brought them out, to do them to death in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth”? Leave your burning wrath; relent and do not bring this disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, your servants to whom by your own self you swore and made this promise: I will make your offspring as many as the stars of heaven, and all this land which I promised I will give to your descendants, and it shall be their heritage for ever.’
So the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
Jesus said to the Jews:
‘Were I to testify on my own behalf,
my testimony would not be valid;
but there is another witness who can speak on my behalf,
and I know that his testimony is valid.
You sent messengers to John,
and he gave his testimony to the truth:
not that I depend on human testimony;
no, it is for your salvation that I speak of this.
John was a lamp alight and shining
and for a time you were content to enjoy the light that he gave.
But my testimony is greater than John’s:
the works my Father has given me to carry out,
these same works of mine testify
that the Father has sent me.
Besides, the Father who sent me
bears witness to me himself.
You have never heard his voice,
you have never seen his shape,
and his word finds no home in you
because you do not believe in the one he has sent.
‘You study the scriptures,
believing that in them you have eternal life;
now these same scriptures testify to me,
and yet you refuse to come to me for life!
As for human approval, this means nothing to me.
Besides, I know you too well: you have no love of God in you.
I have come in the name of my Father
and you refuse to accept me;
if someone else comes in his own name
you will accept him.
How can you believe,
since you look to one another for approval
and are not concerned
with the approval that comes from the one God?
Do not imagine that I am going to accuse you before the Father:
you place your hopes on Moses,
and Moses will be your accuser.
If you really believed him
you would believe me too,
since it was I that he was writing about;
but if you refuse to believe what he wrote,
how can you believe what I say?’
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them
Week 1 of California’s coronavirus ‘self-quarantine’ measures has been a complete joke. For one, there’s been a near-apocalyptic rush for groceries. Makes you wonder why we’re bothering with the travel bans. All you have to do to catch the virus is go to Costco. Hordes of people queue to get in at dawn. They queue for trolleys. They queue to check out. No one is respecting the 6ft rule. People are pushing and shoving to clear products from aisles. Even during the worst days of the Great Financial Crisis in 2008, we never fought over milk and eggs. We are now.
On some level, this rabid behavior is about maintaining control. When you obsessively hoard toilet paper, face masks, hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes, what you’re really doing is trying to ‘control’ your life. And perhaps that’s what the Hebrews were doing with their golden calf — trying to preserve a way of life. We’ve all grown accustomed to the years of peace and plenty. We’re now being forced to reckon with what may be years of famine. It will be a shock to a lot of us. Just like the Hebrews in the desert, we’re not ready to give up the lives we led. All that wining, dining, latte drinking, online shopping; we can’t fathom it. I can’t fathom it.
It’s probably no coincidence that all this is happening during the holy season of Lent. As we face the loneliness and isolation of self-quarantine, maybe now is a good time to give up this need for control and hand the reins back to God. What else are we going to do? Lent is a time of repentance, of quiet prayer, of reflection, of conversion. Lent is also a time of self awareness. Did we go too far? Did we become distracted and lose our way?
I haven’t been to confession in a long while. I don’t even know if they’re doing them anymore with all these church closures and bans on public gatherings. I’d really like to tell God, “Wow, I really screwed up this time. I got distracted, forgot Your priorities, forgot your blessings. I lost my way. I’m done with all that noise now. Please find me here. Please.”
(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)
Prayer: We ask for God’s forgiveness for our arrogance and complacency during the years of peace and plenty. We pray for His mercy and His guidance during these uncertain times.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for our families and loved ones. We give thanks for God’s protection of them and His love for us, even while we are difficult to love.