Sewing Hope Into Broken Hearts
Jan. 23, 2014

Yada, Yada, Yahweh?

You know, I think the first Commandment doesn’t get enough attention. We find ways to gloss over this commandment as a “given” in our prayer life. Most Catholics I know, myself included say “I know that one...I am the Lord your God, you shall not make any graven image of me...yadda, yadda, yadda...good I’ve done moving on to the more interesting things I’ve done or not done on the list of ten.” I mean after all, even if we wanted to do so, most of us don’t have enough precious metal laying around the house to make a molten calf.

It is a pretty safe bet though that God didn’t deliver the first commandment to Moses and his chosen people with a “Seinfeld-Esque” attitude, therefore we too shouldn’t approach it lackadaisically, but we at times can be lazy and fall into this trap. I think the issue is twofold. First, we believers take God’s love, power, and grace for granted (I mean He is always present and knows everything...maybe if He wasn’t constantly hanging around with us we’d appreciate him a little more). Sarcasm aside, the other problem is that our society doesn’t respect God. Many in the secular world think God is just one of the boys (they call him up every once in a while when they are bored on a Sunday morning and say hello, but otherwise never talk). His existence is approached with indifference rather than reverence in our world today. So to sum it up they say to us “what makes God so great?” And we reply, “ah well God is God, if you knew Him you’d understand.”

The Catechism affirms that our approach to the first commandment cannot be merely a passive acknowledgment of God:

"The one and true God first reveals his glory to Israel. The revelation of the vocation and the truth of man is linked to the revelation of God. Man’s vocation is to make God manifest by acting in conformity with his creation “in the image and likeness of God.” (CCC 2085)."

This quote puts the burden upon us to spread the Gospel and live as people of virtue. We are called to put God’s glory on display for all to see and that is a little bit hard to do sitting on our sofas watching Sportscenter five hours a day. We must be people of virtue illuminating the world with our faith, comforting the world with our hope, and transforming the world with our love. When we take time to cultivate these virtues we recognize more clearly that God is dwelling in our hearts. He calls us to action and to live abundant lives. In other words, it is an impossibility for a person who honors and fears God, to be a slothful couch potato.

Indifference, ingratitude, and lukewarmness are all sinful. While they may not be quite as entertaining, “fun” or memorable as some of the other sins of commission; being lazy about our faith damages our relationship with God. Each of these sins of omission cut God out of our life and society. If we don’t demonstrate our faith to others it leads them to believe that God isn’t of supreme importance and honoring him isn’t necessary for our salvation. Not thanking God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon us can lead others to believe that we are self-sufficient and autonomous and we don’t need his Grace. Finally, being tepid can lead others to believe that God requires nothing from us and we can respond to his Grace whenever we so choose. These sinful actions perpetuate evil in the world and give room for false God to grow in our hearts.

So what can we do to stop these evils from creeping into our lives and in turn society? The simple answer is to be people of prayer. Prayer directs our thoughts and actions toward charity and helps steer us away from vice by uniting us more intimately with God. Prayer helps us remain vigilant and stand with confidence before the Lord. Prayer cultivates our relationship with God and roots us in the truth leading us to honor and respect God above all else. We keep the first commandment if we commit ourselves to prayer, it is that simple and that challenging.

It is quite possible if we live as people of prayer and virtue those with whom we have encounters won’t leave saying yadda...yadda...yadda but rather Yahweh...Yahweh...Yahweh...