Pope Francis said God is the greatest glory and warned believers against the temptation to deify earthly things and even to idolize our habits. Instead, he said, we should be looking beyond these things to the transcendent, to God the creator, whose glory never fades. The pope’s words came during his homily at his Mass on Friday (November 13) celebrated at the Santa Marta residence.
Pope Francis reflected in his homily on God’s eternal glory and said there are two dangers that undermine believers: the temptation to deify our earthly things and even to idolize our habits, as if all this were lasting forever. Instead, he said, God is the greatest glory and this is made clear in the psalms where we read how “The heavens declare the Glory of God.” The problem, said the pope, is that humans often bow down before things whose splendor is only a reflection that will be extinguished one day - or worse still they become devoted to even more fleeting pleasures.
Pope Francis warned about the “error” of many people who, he said, are incapable of looking beyond the beauty of earthly things towards the transcendent, describing this attitude as the idolatry of immanence.
“They are attached to this idolatry: they are astonished by the power and energy (of these things). They haven’t thought about how much greater is their sovereign because he created them, he who is the origin and the author of this beauty. It’s an idolatry to gaze at all these beautiful things without believing that they will fade away. And the fading too has its beauty… And this idolatry of being attached to the beauty of the here and now, without (a sense of) the transcendence, we all run the risk of having that. It’s the idolatry of immanence. We believe that these things are almost gods and they will last forever. We forget about that fading away.”
The other trap or idolatry into which many people fall, warned the pope, is that of our daily habits which make our hearts deaf. He said Jesus illustrated this when he described the men and woman during the time of Noah or Sodom who ate and drank and got married without caring about anything else until the flood came or the Lord rained down burning sulphur.
“Everything is according to habit. Life is like that: We live in this way, without thinking about the end of this way of living. This too is an idolatry: to be attached to our habits, without thinking that this will come to an end. But the Church makes us look at the end of these things. Even our habits can be thought of as gods. The idolatry? Life is like this and we go forward in this way… And just as this beauty will finish in another (kind of) beauty, our habits will finish in an eternity, in another (kind of) habit. But there is God!”
Pope Francis went on to urge his listeners to direct their gaze always beyond towards the one God who is beyond “the end of created things” so as not to repeat the fatal error of looking back, as Lot’s wife did. We must be certain, he stressed, that if life is beautiful then its end will be just as beautiful as well.
“We believers are not people who look back, who yield, but people who always go forward.” We must always go forward in this life, looking at the beautiful things and with the habits that we all have but without deifying them. They will end. Be they these small beauties, which reflect a bigger beauty, our own habits for surviving in the eternal song, contemplating the glory of God.”