Thursday, June 25, 2009

Golden Calves

Emil Nolde (1867-1956)
Dance Around the Golden Calf
Oil on canvas
88 x 105.5 cm
Staatsgalerie moderner Kunst, Munich

Jan Steen (Dutch, 1626-1679)
The Worship of the Golden Calf, about 1673-77
Oil on canvas, 70 1/4 x 61 1/4 in. (178.4 x 155.6 cm.)
The North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC

Ignatius Taschner (1871-1913)
Illustration for Heinrich Heine`s poem Das Goldene Kalb
Print engraving
New York Public Library, New York

Carnaval de Nice: La Folie Veau d`Or 1903-20

When Moses went up onto Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:20), he left the Israelites for forty days and forty nights (Exodus 24:18)

At the request of the Israelites, Aaron collected and melted down gold objects and constructed the golden calf. Aaron also built an altar before the calf. The next day, the Israelites made offerings and celebrated. (Exodus 32:4)

God has just delivered the Ten Commandments to the Israelites, which included the Second Commandment regarding the prohibition against idolatry

The Holy Father went to the University of Notre Dame's Sacred Heart chapel in Darlinghurst (Sydney) where he met young people with histories of drug addiction and other problems. They are following the "Alive" rehabilitation program.

The Pope recalled Moses' words in the Old Testament: "'I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live in the love of the Lord your God, [...] for in this your life consists."

"It was clear what they had to do," the Pope explained, "they had to turn away from other gods and worship the true God Who had revealed himself to Moses -- and they had to obey His commandments.

You might think that in today's world, people are unlikely to start worshipping other gods. But sometimes people worship 'other gods' without realizing it. False 'gods' [...] are nearly always associated with the worship of three things: material possessions, possessive love, or power."

"Authentic love is obviously something good," the Pope continued. "When we love, we become most fully ourselves, most fully human.

But [...] people often think they are being loving when actually they are being possessive or manipulative.

People sometimes treat others as objects to satisfy their own needs. [...] How easy it is to be deceived by the many voices in our society that advocate a permissive approach to sexuality, without regard for modesty, self-respect or the moral values that bring quality to human relationships!"