Pentecost 14, Friday, Year B

Inspired by Exodus 32:15-35

“Moses said to Aaron, ‘What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?’ And Aaron said, ‘Do not let the anger of my lord burn hot; you know the people, that they are bent on evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ So I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, take it off’; so they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!’” Exodus 32:21-24 (NRSV)

We all want to interpret our own actions in the best possible light. When confronted with our own wrongdoing, we usually cast blame on others, and minimize our own culpability.

When asked why he had brought so great a sin upon the people by making the golden calf, Aaron blamed the people, appealing to Moses’ own experience with them to verify that they were “bent on evil.” He accurately described the people coming to him with the request for new gods, but then revised and minimized his own role in making that false god. According to his retelling to Moses, Aaron simply threw all the gold into the fire, and this calf magically formed itself and came out of its own accord! Aaron conveniently left out the part where he meticulously shaped the gold into a mold and intentionally cast the image of a calf.

Aaron was not a victim of circumstance, and, most of the time, neither are we. Aaron made a choice, just as we do. Sometimes they are good choices; sometimes they are not. But the only way to receive forgiveness is to acknowledge our need for it, and confess our sins. Completely and accurately.

Our God is a forgiving God, and he knows us better than we know ourselves. Trust in his mercy, confess your sins, and receive his forgiveness.

Let us pray. Forgiving God, your capacity for forgiveness is greater than our capacity for sin. Grant us the courage to own our sinfulness, that we may be cleansed by your mercy and grace. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.