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Writing on the wall

Who are our heroes in life? Are they sport or movie stars, business tycoons, fashion models, musicians or pop singers?

These are important questions, especially for young people, the walls of whose bedrooms are often plastered with posters featuring the idols that feed their latest fads and dreams.

Even saints may find a spot and, depending on the person, the life span of an idol may vary radically from days to years.

They may even be politicians, trades union representatives, philosophers, ecological or human rights advocates, community leaders or social reform activists who find themselves in the coveted space on the teenage bedroom wall.

But whoever they are, their attitudes, demeanour, actions and image are having a profound influence on the development of young minds.

This does not stop with teenage years either, although the decorative expression may change with age, the same tendency to idolise remains, although the field the person may idolise can change.

Irrespective of who the idols are, how good bad or indifferent, they can absorb the imagination to the exclusion of other things. People can get saint fixations to the extent that God can even be more or less excluded from their lives in preference for a holy person.

This can lead to a religious imbalance, as the idol can move to top place in the list of role models, above the big heroes of the bible, and end up being above God and Jesus.

But in the readings for today’s liturgy, we hear St. Peter giving us some advice based on the nature of God.

He tells us that God does not show partiality. God does not place any one person above another, but treats them all as equal, a lesson for our discerning minds to learn from, as in God’s eyes, no one is more precious or more beautiful that anyone else.

St. Peter points out that God’s grace is showered equally upon all people, without distinction, Jews, Christians and Gentiles alike, as Jesus came into this world to save all people.

In his letter St. John tells us that this is important to remember, as the command we received from God is to love one another without distinction.

There is a great lesson here for us, that can prompt questions , do I create disharmony among my friends, work colleagues and acquaintances? Do I create division in the Church? Do I create division in my public life, by saying one thing and doing another.

Jesus calls for our obedience to the laws of God, not in an authoritarian manner, as it is not a do what I tell you or else syndrome. He says, “You are my friends if you do what I command,” not my servants, not my subjects.

He says I am your friend, here to help you and show you the way to fullness of joy and happiness.

This is a profound offer of faithful friendship complete with a perfect role model that is well deserving of a poster on anyone’s bedroom wall.

It is also a challenge to keep our perspectives balanced and not allow more fleeting images to dominate our consciousness and affect our decision-making to the exclusion of the greatest friend we could possibly have, God.

So let’s put the writing on the wall.