December 2: Avoiding Idols During Advent

Published December 2, 2015 by Unprodigal Daughter

Wednesday

Everything is seemingly focused on Christ’s birth throughout December, but it is easy to see that we do not spend four weeks in devout prayer and anticipation for Our Lord. 

Much of the “holiday season” involves putting other things before God–quite literally, most of the time spent preparing for Christmas is focused on idols. 

Idolatry is more than just worshipping a golden calf. It is more complex than simply being greedy and putting money before all other interests (to give another example). Our idols can disguise themselves as a good thing, and most of the time, they are not a bad thing, in themselves. 

The problem comes when we put all of our energies toward a single goal. Perhaps you are entertaining guests this holiday season and you want everything to be “just right” in your home–from the decorations, to the food, to the gifts. This is not an unholy goal, but if it drives you entirely, takes up your time, causes you to be unkind to others or ignore others, or takes away from your devotion to Christ, it has become an idol.

Putting Christ at the center of our hearts does not simply make us happy–it makes us balanced. When God comes first, everything else falls into place. Our relationships improve, we feel healthier, and life becomes lighter. This Advent, let us all put our focus on Christ so that we, idol-free, may have a joyful holiday.

Opening Prayer

Our Father and only true GOD, we ask that You search our hearts and cleanse us of any idols You find there. Anything that takes us away from You must go out of our lives in Jesus’ Name! Anything we spend too much time, effort or money on. Anyone we lean on more than You.

We ask for Your cleansing and that You reveal to us any idol in our hearts. We want our hearts to be wholly YOURS, dear LORD, and not another’s. Help us to be faithful in this important allegiance and trust in YOU.

We pray for all true Christians that they would be convicted of any form of idolatry that they allow in their lives and hearts. Cleanse us Heavenly Father and may we be sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, set us free in Jesus’ Name.

We come against religious idolatry in every form that it takes. Idolatry that blinds the heart and mind, whether it be a statue or an idol of ministry or of the heart. We command that these idols fall in the Mighty Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Save us, O LORD, from idolatry and help Your people to worship only You, in Spirit and in Truth. In the Wonderful, Precious Name of The Lord, Jesus, Amen.

(taken from https://1thessalonians417.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/for-cleansing-from-any-form-of-idolatry/.) 

Daily Readings

Reading 1 IS 25:6-10A

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
The web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.

On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

—————
Responsorial Psalm PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R. (6cd) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

—————
Gospel MT 15:29-37

At that time:
Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee,
went up on the mountain, and sat down there.
Great crowds came to him,
having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute,
and many others.
They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.
The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking,
the deformed made whole,
the lame walking,
and the blind able to see,
and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus summoned his disciples and said,
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
for they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
I do not want to send them away hungry,
for fear they may collapse on the way.”
The disciples said to him,
“Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place
to satisfy such a crowd?”
Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?”
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.”
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then he took the seven loaves and the fish,
gave thanks, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.

——————

Multimedia

In today’s reading, Jesus tells us that when we follow him entirely and turn away from idols, we become spiritually full. Christ feeds our souls and warms our hearts. For a reflection on the story of the loaves and fishes  and how Christ spiritually feeds us, watch this clip.

Other Advent Activities

For a family activity, try this page dedicated to Jesse tree devotions and activities.

Closing Prayer

Merciful God we praise you for your unfailing love.
We praise you for feeding our hunger for bread and for “the bread of life.”
We praise you for taking our little basket of fish and barley loaves
and using it to feed others.

Lord we ask you for your care and healing touch for those who are sick.
We ask for your compassion on those who are suffering in our world.
We ask for you comfort for those who are grieving.

We thank you for your daily tender mercies.
We thank you for your daily love.
We thank you for your daily grace.

We call upon you Lord to empower us
as we declare who you are to a world who needs you.
We call upon you Lord to inspire us
as we seek to inspire others.
We call upon you Lord to strengthen us
in our own weakness.

We ask all this in your son’s name,
Amen.

(taken from http://re-worship.blogspot.com/2012/07/pastoral-prayer-loaves-and-fish.html.) 

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