By Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel
Special to The Texas Catholic
Time and time again in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the One, True, and Supreme God has made himself known to us. In the Old Testament, the saving deeds of God toward his chosen people are constantly recalled. He is the Supreme Creator who creates by a mere act of his will; he alone delivers his people Israel from slavery and is declared by all the prophets to be mightier than all the pagan gods of neighboring peoples. In the New Testament, Jesus commends the lawyer’s insight that the greatest law is that, “God alone is Lord and we are to love him with all our heart, all of our mind and all of our soul”.
The first commandment commands us to adore the one true God and to worship him with acts of faith, hope and charity. An act of faith means that we acknowledge as true what God reveals to us because he is God—truth itself. Faith requires an act of humility on our part as we acknowledge that we are not the center of the universe and that there is truth even beyond our limited and sometimes erroneous human reason. Hope acknowledges that we are dependent upon God and rely on his help for life and true happiness. This too requires humility because we must come to realize that in the end we do not save ourselves but because of his love for us, God chooses to share his everlasting life with us. Acts of charity mean that we love God as the supreme being, perfect truth and beauty and center of all love. It also means that we worship God by loving our neighbor who is created in the image and likeness of God.
Few of us worship false gods or idols in the Old Testament sense. But we have many modern false idols that we can be tempted to worship as gods. Modern idols can be money, fame, our ego, pleasure, drugs, or material things. These can become, if we let them, the center of our lives. They are false gods which, as we heard the gospel a few Sundays ago, do not guarantee life, but are the path to death.
We worship God by acts of faith when we believe to be true all that God has revealed about himself as being true in the Sacred Scriptures and the teaching of the Catholic Church. We sin against faith when we deny any or all teachings of the faith. To love God means that we try to learn as much about him as we can, to find out his will and plan for us and try to live it every day. Living lives of hope means that we believe God gives us all that we need to obtain everlasting life and that he forgives and heals us when we fail and turn to him for mercy. If we think we are so horrible that not even God can save us or if we think that we are so good we can save ourselves without God’s help, we sin against hope. Let us always worship the one, true God who so loves us and wants an intimate relationship with us.
The Most Rev. J. Douglas Deshotel is an auxiliary bishop, vicar general and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Dallas.