Exodus 32:15-24, 30-34
A New Reformation
I suppose most of us succumb, throughout our lives, to the sin of “them and us”…that is, we project guilt on others, then try to distance ourselves from that guilt. For example, each person, tribe, family, nation, or church — like ancient Israel in today’s first reading — continues to commit the sin of worshipping a golden calf and reckless revelry. For us, the golden calf might be purchasing things, clutter. Passionist Scripture scholar Fr. Carroll says, “The consequences of sin aren’t always experienced immediately, but, sooner or later, the poison works its way through the system.”
Pope Francis is now leading us in a reformation. Repeatedly he reminds us that our golden calf (and revelry) is consumerism. Most of us counter his prophetic word with, “But look how capitalism has lifted so many out of poverty!” Maybe we are confusing the ideals of Adam Smith in the 18th century — a foundation in morals, values, doing what’s right for the common good (a vision that created a great economic superpower) — with “mutant capitalism” (an aberration sabotaged by greed, Ayn Rand’s narcissism).
The parable we hear in today’s Gospel about how yeast is able to transform a large batch of dough suggests a better way to impact society, countering this mutant capitalism, than litigation and argumentation. Countless studies and our own observation remind us again and again that people are led to Christ by good example. I know the impact Pope Francis has had on me: I want to be a better priest, I want to be a better disciple. From South American recently, Pope Francis’ words are compelling: “The future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and the elites. It is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize. It is in their hands, which can guide with humility and conviction this process of change. I am with you.”
Fr. Jack Conley, C.P. is the director of the Office of Mission Effectiveness. He is a member of the Passionist formation community at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.