The Perspective of Justice

The Prime Sin

Moses encountered on Mount Sinai the one God, the God of his ancestors, the God whose name is I am. A covenant was to be made with the people of Israel, one based on their recognition of YHWH as the one God. The Israelites would stray from that covenant from time to time, turning away from the one God and worshipping false gods.

Their prophets would repeatedly call them back to the covenant worship of the one God.

We, too, turn away from the one God to worship false gods. We make an idol of money, worshipping at the altar of the almighty dollar. We make an idol of power, worshipping at the altar of political domination and economic oppression. We make an idol of pleasure, worshipping at the altar of sex and luxurious comfort.

Our prophets call us back to the one God, but we ignore or kill them.

Lent is a season to turn away from our false idols and call on the merciful and gracious Lord, who is “slow to anger and abounding in kindness.” We are called in Lent “to prayer, fasting and works of mercy” because, as Jesus tells us in the Gospel, “you will all come to the same end unless you begin to reform.”

We are called to abandon our false gods of money, power and pleasure and return to the one God, “who secures justice and the rights of all the oppressed.”

The prime sin in so much of the biblical tradition is idolatry: service of the creature rather than of the creator, and the attempt to overturn creation by making God in human likeness. The Bible castigates not only the worship of idols, but also manifestations of idolatry, such as the quest for unrestrained power and the desire for great wealth.

U.S. Bishops, Economic Justice for All,1986: 33

Gerald Darring

Now published in book form, To Love and Serve: Lectionary Based Meditations, by Gerald Darring This entire three year cycle is available at


**From Saint Louis University

Kristin Clauson