The First Commandment
God belongs above everything else
“And the Lord spoke all these words: I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.” - Exodus 20:1-3
We are commanded to love God more than anything else. To place God above every single other desire that we have. We fast to remind ourselves that the heavenly food of our Lord’s sacrifice is more important to us than anything earthly. Some among the faithful have been raised up high as martyrs to remind the rest of us that faith in our Lord is more important than physical life itself.
“And Jesus beholding, said to them: With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible. Then Peter answering, said to him: Behold we have left all things, and have followed thee: what therefore shall we have? And Jesus said to them: Amen, I say to you, that you, who have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of his majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting. And many that are first, shall be last: and the last shall be first.” - Matthew 19:26-30
We must love God and the immortality he died to give to us more than mortal life and all that belongs purely to it. All that we cast aside by the wayside on the narrow road to Heaven is returned to us in hundred-fold. We throw aside lust and we gain true love through Charity. We throw aside petty tribalism and we gain true fraternity through the peace brought about by our shared faith. We throw aside our petty willpower, our desires for personal gain, and gain the true wealth and the true will found in the life of Grace.
“I say then, walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the spirit: and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another: so that you do not the things that you would. But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, idolatry [emphasis mine], witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” - Galatians 5:16-25
When we place God above everything else, we have a right-ordered life. God has helped us to suborn the flesh to the spirit. We have listened to the proddings of the Holy Spirit, the paraclete, rather than burying these proddings under a mound of food, pills, drugs, and drinks. Even our fellow humans are laid on this mound, used as objects or items to smother the Holy Spirit.
Idolatry is when Man tells God, “I know better than you on this matter, which is why I’m going to do things this way, because I love something of this world more than I love you.” When Man tells others that his idolatrous practices are in line with God’s will, then added to the first sin are the sins of scandal and possibly heresy.
There are many idolatries in which our fellows, our hoped for future brothers and sisters, mire themselves today. In the humble opinion of this writer, the three most popular forms of idolatry in the world today are the following:
“I saw what I had become, lashing out at every single thing. And I asked God, ‘If you take anger out of my heart, I’ll never hate again,” - Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Created Equal (2020)
The idolatry of racialism: engaging in and fomenting race-based resentment in any form. Grievously contrary to charity.
“My dear lady, this is a list
of the beauties my master has loved,
a list which I have compiled.
Observe, read along with me.
In Italy, six hundred and forty;
in Germany, two hundred and thirty-one;
a hundred in France; in Turkey ninety-one.
In Spain already one thousand and three.” - Don Giovanni (1787), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The idolatry of sexuality: deviating from the Moral law, established by God, in order to gratify lust. Grievously contrary to chastity.
“Here at least We shall be free: th’Almighty hath not built Here for his envy, will not drive us hence: Here we may reign secure, and in my choice To reign is worth ambition, though in hell; Better to reign in hell than serve in heav’n.” - Paradise Lost (1667), John Milton
The idolatry of personalism: ignoring the sacraments and teachings given to us by God in preference for one’s own beliefs about how religion should be practiced. Grievously contrary to faith.
“But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.” - Matthew 18:15-18
We are compelled to rebuke the idolatrous and point them to the Church, wherein their sins can be forgiven. If there are those who are lapsed among us who have given themselves over to idolatries, then they may be forgiven these deviations through reconciliation. If there are those among us who have never been clothed in white, then they may be baptized and thereby cleansed of these deviations. All through the power of our Lord, whom we love above everything else.
Pray for the idolatrous, that their eyes be made to see and their ears to hear.