‘‘…They have quickly turned aside out the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.’ The words of the Scripture want to instruct us and heal us. There is never a mere reproach when it addresses us. These lines teach us that the experience of the Sacred provokes in us ‘an opposite act’. When we achieve something good, we humans tend to undermine it. There is something in us which wants to counteract. ‘The molten image’, actually, is when our best qualities are turned inside out, ‘disfigured’. With the ‘two tables of the covenant in our hands’, like Moses, we can see clearly the troubling distance between us and God.
Indeed, there is still something beautiful in our ‘golden torso’. But for the careful eyes, there is more lacking from this beauty than what has actually remained of it. We can visualise how people were fascinated by ‘the golden calf’. But we can also see something grotesque, something life-less in this shiny shape. Let us contemplate this biblical image as the ‘golden reverse’ of our true godly self… as the expression of when the vital element of ‘living grace’ is missing from us: thanksgiving. In other words: openness to God.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..