Pope Francis: Beware of Hidden Idolatry That ‘Stifles’ the Faith
The Holy Father warns against the trap of becoming an apostle of one’s own ideas.
VATICAN CITY — In his daily Mass homily on Oct. 15, Pope Francis warned of the presence of idolatry in our lives, urging each person present to look to themselves in order to find the hidden idols that are present.
“Even today, there are so many idols, and even today there are so many idolaters, so many who think they are wise,” urged the Holy Father during his Mass.
Pope Francis offered his reflections to those present in the St. Martha guesthouse of the Vatican, emphasizing the need to be aware of the trap of becoming an apostle of one’s own ideas and forgetting the commandment to love without exceptions.
Echoing the words of St. Paul from the day’s first reading, the Pope condemned the sin of idolatry in those who, “although they knew God,” did not “accord him glory as God or give him thanks,” preferring instead to worship “the creature rather than the Creator.”
This sin, stressed the Pope, “stifles the truth of the faith.”
Highlighting how each person has the desire to worship due to the “imprint of God within us,” he stated that “when we do not worship God, we worship creatures. And this is the passage from faith to idolatry.”
“These people, idolaters, have no excuse,” urged the Pope, “because having known God, they have neither glorified nor worshipped him as God.”
“And what is the way of idolatry? He says clearly: ‘They became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.’ [This is] the selfishness of their own thoughts, the omnipotent thought, that which I think is true: I think the truth; I make the truth with my thought.”
Pope Francis went on to recall how those who criticized St. Paul during his life spoke of the people who prostrated in front of images of animals, stressing that simply because this practice is not common today, it does not mean that the sin of idolatry has disappeared.
Idolatry, noted the Holy Father, has taken on new forms, and “even today there are so many idolaters, so many who think they are wise.”
“But even among us, among Christians, eh? I’m not speaking about them, I respect them, those who aren’t Christians. But among us — we’re speaking within the family.”
The Pope stressed that there are those who practice the faith who “think they’re wise; they know everything. ... They’ve become foolish and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God with an image: myself, my ideas, my comforts.”
Cautioning those in attendance at the Mass, the Holy Father stressed that, all along the path of faith, “there are idols, even a step forward,” emphasizing, “We all have within ourselves some hidden idol.”
“We can ask ourselves in the sight of God,” encouraged the Holy Father, “what is my hidden idol? What takes the place of God?”
Pope Francis then recalled the words of Jesus to the Pharisees in the Gospel, who were scandalized that he did not wash his hands before the meal, saying that if St. Paul refers to the idolaters as foolish, then Jesus says the same thing of the hypocrites.
Quoting the passage from Luke’s Gospel reading of the day, the Holy Father urged: “Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. … But as to what is within, give alms, and, behold, everything will be clean for you.”
“Jesus counsels: Don’t look at appearances; go by the truth,” said the Pope. “The plate is the plate, but what is important is what’s on the plate: the meal.”
“If you are vain, if you are a careerist, if you are ambitious, if you are a person who always puts himself forward or likes to advance yourself because you think you are perfect, give a little bit of alms, and that will heal your hypocrisy.”
“This is the way of the Lord,” he concluded. “It is to worship God, to love God above all things and to love your neighbor.”
“It’s so simple, but so difficult! This can only be done with grace. Let us ask for this grace.”