March 3, 2024
3rd Sunday of Lent
I am the Lord your God … You shall not have other gods beside me. —Ex 20:2-3
One of the greatest golfers of all time — if not the greatest — was Jack Nicklaus. Which is why it is baffling that at the beginning of each season he would return to his childhood coach and re-learn how to grip the golf club. It’s like Shakespeare re-learning the alphabet and grammar. Why would he do that? Because Jack knew that the fundamentals are always relevant. Perfecting and obsessing over his grip allowed him to do everything else in the game well. In sports and life, the best ones love the basics.
Similarly, as we begin Lent, we re-learn the spiritual basics in the Ten Commandments. Consider the first, to “have no other gods besides me.” This is our “grip.” Is our connection to God one of absolute fidelity and exclusive worship? Am I willing to let go of my precious idols, the things I cling to instead of God? Once we say “yes” to this fundamental question of our spiritual “grip,” then we are ready to properly engage with everything else in life. Watch how beautifully the game of life unfolds in the next nine commandments (numbered in parentheses): how we speak to God and others (2 and 8), how we organize our week (3), how we relate to our family (4) and the wider community (5 and 7), how we live our sexuality (6), and how we order all the other desires of the human heart (9 and 10). But don’t rush to these later Commandments too soon! Everything in life is built on the first Commandment. The more we focus on worshiping God alone, the better we navigate the complexity of life with panache, effectiveness, and love.
Lenten challenge: This week, identify what you can do to better worship God alone. If you’re not sure, scan the last nine commandments to identify what you are most likely to worship instead of God. Power, pleasure, control of your time, possessions, family, health, reputation, money? Commit to concrete action to help you let go of this “idol” to better hold on to God alone in faithful worship. Remember: the best love the basics.
— Father John Muir