worshipping what ?

May 20, 2020

Humans breathe and walk and talk and eat and sleep. No argument there.

However it is also a fact that every human worships because worship is a inescapable human need.

If we don’t make a conscious choice about what or who we worship then we will indiscriminately and sub-consciously grasp at something or someone to place at the centre of our lives, then live with constant frustration that this person or object fails to deliver the depth of meaning and happiness that we seek in life.

The people the Old Testament found themselves worshiping a golden calf and I fear that I am being spoken about as one of the foolish idol worshippers in the vivid image from Psalm 115

Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands
They have mouths but they cannot speak;
they have eyes but they cannot see.
They have ears but they cannot hear;
they have nostrils but they cannot smell.
They have hands but they cannot feel;
they have feet but they cannot walk.
They make no sound from their throats.
heir makers will come to be like them,
as will all who trust in them.

St. Paul gives a great sermon to the people of Athens in today’s first reading. It begins “You Athenians” and is known as the Aereopagus sermon. It’s the most complete and dramatic of all Paul’s addresses. In this sermon Paul tells the people of Athens that he has noticed that they are worshipping – even at an altar inscribed “to an unknown God.”

We might look back to ancient people even centuries before Paul who were worshipping many manufactured deities, some at shrines like Stonehenge and Newgrange which still exist today.

We have no problem labelling as “primitive” people who followed ancient and now largely extinct religions, and while we appreciate the beauty of the sunrise, full moon or star constellations, the sight of these cosmic realities doesn’t cause us to fall to our knees in adoration.

We then think of ourselves and our culture as advanced and sophisticated (ie from Greek “wise person”) when we call ourselves Christian, but we are really just misguided idol-worshippers like our sun-worshipping ancestors.  In fact our problem is more serious since the gods we worship are earthly, tangible, fickle and fleeting with no hint of healthy transcendence.

I have often thought that while we often struggle with most of the ten commandments, most of us think we do ok when it comes to the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods.” It is significant that Jesus repeats and emphasises this first commandment since he understands that all of our problems come from a lack of understanding of and fidelity to the first commandment. There is a good reason that the first commandment is the first commandment.

So who or what is a god for us? Anything or anyone I cannot let go of has become my God. Some examples: fears, success, family, work, ambition, money, possessions, attitudes, habits, goals, compulsions…the list is endless.

And another exercises to help discover your false gods:  A glance at your diary or bank statement will indicate what is central in your life. We spend our time and money on the people and things that we often allow to replace the one true God.

As Paul reminds the Atheneans:

 “God is not far from any of us, since it is in him that we live, and move, and exist, as indeed some of your own writers have said: “We are all his children.” ‘Since we are the children of God, we have no excuse for thinking that the deity looks like anything in gold, silver or stone that has been carved and designed by a human.”

An Invitation:

  • Don’t spend any time now feeling guilty about all your gods. Instead, right now, make a change deciding to live every moment of the next 24 hours consciously and actively worshipping only one God, the known God, the true God, the God made known to us in Jesus Christ who is God-with-us.  Then after practicing this for a few hours, become aware of any changes you notice in your life. I guarantee that you will be pleasantly surprised, even delighted at what you notice, even as you feel as though you are fumbling and groping for God…



  • Pray to Sleep (a ten minute bedtime audio reflection) at this link.
  • Today’s readings at this link.
  • Send your prayer requests to john@fff.org.nz. Each day I will add the initials of those we pray for to this list. Take a moment, perhaps 15 seconds, to pray in whatever way you choose for those whose initials appear below, and don’t hesitate to send repeat requests for prayer. 


Let us pray today (Wednesday) especially for:   MC,  PH,  JH,  SH,  MC,  MH,  MD,  AF,  MO,  CM,  SES,  CO,  DC (RIP at weekend) & for CC wife. TC, TL,  VH,  CD,  XD,  CP,  MK,  

Recovery from stroke. For my sister who is dying…her faith is unbelievable but she is in a lot of pain.For healing of his chronic stomach pain. For my daughter who is almost 40 and has been suffering from an auto immune disease for several years now…praying for the doctors finally get her meds right as this has not been happening causing all sorts of things and ultimately for healing in her body and spirit. For discernment regarding next step to take  and for knee pain. Physical healing and guidance. For her return to Church and for her to be cured of her high blood pressure. For one to find and know our Lord Jesus. For one suffering from severe depression and although under a psychiatrist now, medication so far has not seen an improvement, so withdrawn, barely eating and being here is a deep struggle I think. I pray for healing, for improvement and that she may know God’s deep love and care for her.  For a priest who is struggling with his ministry being questioned.

Tuesday: AS,  DD, BD,  WC,  KJ,  PG, CG,  PR,  SG,  PB.  FF,  JC,  BO,  PM,  MD,  

Monday:  AL,  MM, SIM,  TP,  PB,  JL,  AP,  MM,  WP,  TEP,  LP,  JD,  MD,  SL,  PM,  JK,  SB,  BW,  LC,  RS,  EC,  KN,  JP,  IF,  TP,  TP,  MW,  JN,  SN,  

Sunday:  SP,  PB,  BH,  JJ,  KB,  DM,  GL (RIP last Tuesday)  JT,  

Saturday:   CM,  OP,  GC,  GS,  ES,  MLAH,  CS,  HC,  DC,  DU,   DMC,  FTM,  JS,  SD, MD, CM, TD. MM,   ZM,   LM,   SD,   JD,  LD,  AD. DC,  ME,, CE,  KC,  LC,  BC,  KC,  BC,

Friday:  LS (RIP),  AR,  TT,  BP,  MP,  PP,  GTD (RIP2015),  PB,  LM,  JK,  MK,  TJO, LB, DD, JRA,  FL, JU,   SLJ.  SLJ. JJJ.  MPJ,  JPM, MLFJ, MD,

Thursday:  SLJ,  JJJ,  RM,  SJ,  SF, SLJ,  JS,  FS,  MD,  GPD,  JMC,  AM & I,  MS,  MC, MR,  JCP,  MON,  SS,  MS, OD, ND, CD, JD, JD & KJ,  EJH,  ARO,  

Last week:   JS,  FS,  SF,  GJG (RIP),  JDG,  MD,  CGW,  SD,  TK,  JK,  RF,  GN,  OP,  GC, TN,  MC,  KJ,  SL,  AN, JMT,  KJ,   MD,  PM, MC, DP,  KD, AD,  BA,  RF,  MC,  PR,  JH,  GPB,AD, NF, PR, GPB,  BA, MA (RIP), LM,  SB,  MO’D,  S&SW,  DMcA,  SS, VM, PM, NM, BB,  BR, RM, IW,  BL,  AM, JM, SM, JH, CSL, BS, AW,  MR, SR, JC, LR, JF, AB, AB, MB, CB, LJ, AF, JB, CB, SB, MB (RIP), MR, MH, SR, RS, MTM, OH, MM (RIP),  SGS.  MC,  EH,  MAC, NDM,  JG, SL, JD,   AJ,  MLJ,  SkJ, MS (RIP), LMP,  GRJP,  JF, IC, RF,  JC,  LHG, LKG, FMG, GMG,  GC, AW,  DM,  MM, PM, ML (RIP), JMC, PN, KM, JJ, MJ, AWS, HGTJ, JHWW, HJPM, MB (RIP), MD, DN, QRPTT, LTP, NVVO, PEGMW, MC, LM & JM, BM, BP, CP, PP, CH, NF, RJH, GOJ, JMC, LH, JS, RMc, MLJ, EL (RIP)AJ,  MLJ,  SkJ, MS (RIP), LMP,  GRJP,  JF, IC, RF,  JC,  LHG, LKG, FMG, GMG,  GC, AW,  DM,  MM, PM, ML (RIP), JMC, PN, KM, JJ, MJ, AWS, HGTJ, JHWW, HJPM, MB (RIP), MD, DN, QRPTT, LTP, NVVO, PEGMW, MC, LM & JM, BM, BP, CP, PP, CH, NF, RJH, GOJ, JMC, LH, JS, RMc, MLJ, EL (RIP),  SS, BK, JKBP, CP, PP, BW, HT (RIP), SL, AW, DM, MM, PM, LH, TN, SF, SC, FM, T&TT, AR, HF, RF, JM, R&B, MC, MD,BH, SGS, JJHB, SJB, BB, MD, MB,  JT,  RF,  SS,  SS,  PB,  SD,  JR,  SQ,  JL, MCSM,  PR,  MJ,  MD,  SM,  PR,  MJ,  MD,



Pictures received of any churches that have been significant in your faith journey will be included as the images on the daily Lectio Divina links. Send to john@fff.org.nz.

Today’s church:  Sacred Heart Cathedral in Thorndon Wellington has two large bronze bells which ring out the Angelus every day across the capital. The bells were donated by the wife of Dr Grace, a prominent parishioner in 1903. The bells originally hung from two towers which had to be removed after the 1942 earthquake. They both now hang from a frame on the south side tower.

Wednesday Easter Week VI (15 minutes) 

Wednesday Easter Week VI  (25 minutes)


  1. Thank you for the invitation to devote my day to worshiping the One True God, so much of my time is taken trying to follow in His ways, that maybe that is what has Clouded my vision to clearly see Him?
    Praying for you Father John, that the Holy Spirit will lead you in your discernment of developing the FFF website.

  2. The beautiful Sacred Heart. I was ordained there and witnessed my niece’s marriage in the lovely side chapel. At the ordination it was freezing so much that a non-catholic family friend wanted to start a fire in the aisle. Not only that but the newly consecrated Cardinal McKeefry mumbled through in Latin,,, until he said in a loud clear voice in English: DO YOU PROMISE OBEDIENCE TO ME YOUR ORDINARY!

  3. Thankyou so much Fr John, for your good care of us over this difficult time. May God bless you and all you do for Him. Please be assured of my prayers.

  4. I visited Newgrange in 1988, and was able to inside into the inner chamber. I remember the ornately carved entrance stone, and familiar to us in NZ the carved fern scrolls, the sense of dread and excitement in being inside, and a very awkward moment in the passage that was a tight squeeze. A real ’empty tomb’ and a trinity of burial slabs.

  5. Thank you Fr. John and God bless you always.

  6. Father John, have so enjoyed and will miss these beautiful reflections. I am always reminded of the Micah words from your ordination card, Live justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with you God. God Bless!!

  7. I will miss these morning ritual thank you Father for your inspirational thoughts

  8. Amen

  9. Lord hear our prayers,
    ‘Your Will Be Done’

    Saint Michael,
    Defend us,in
    The hour of

  10. For most of the 34 years I worked in Wellington this Church was opposite my work place. It was nice to see it today.


  11. I have been grateful for direction throughout this time in the praying of Lectio Divina.
    Blessings on your work and for the Students at Seminary. Thankyou. God Bless.

  12. Thankyou for your film selection. I so enjoyed “all or nothing”, Sr Clare was so genuine, every Catholic family should show this to their transfers (or Catholic School).
    I will miss my morning and night prayer times Fr John. I look forward to the WEB site development.

  13. Thank you so much for the time taken to put together the daily reflections. It’s been a wonderful resource and has helped get back on track with a daily prayer routine. The new app/website sounds wonderful.
    God bless


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