Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image . . . Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them"

by Al Sabado

Today, millions among my countrymen walk barefoot as they join the procession for the Black Nazarene, "a life-sized wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ carrying the cross" [1]. The traditional pahalik or kissing of the sculpture would normally create long lines of devotees who tirelessly await "their turn to kiss the foot of the image" [2]. Catholic devotees touch the sculpture and pray to it like it is indeed alive--when it is not. Despite the fact that the sculpture is a non-living thing, many devotees speak of the miracles it has brought to their lives.


Question--isn't the Black Nazarene an example of a graven image? And doesn't God forbid us from bowing before any graven image, which is an idol in Hebrew [4]? Some might say, "We're just kissing it." Yes, but the significance of kissing the image among devotees is synonymous with bowing to it, isn't it?

My high school teacher even explained in class over two decades ago that images and photos of Jesus and Mary are only representations, not idols. But then, God's Word is clear as He has stated the First Commandment:
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; (Exodus 20:3-5)
Besides, the Lord Jesus was crucified just once and He was risen the third day He said He would rise again. That means we don't crucify Him every year because the events in His life happened only once. For the same reason, we don't put Him on a manger and call Him "baby Jesus" every December!

Oh, my people, the sculptures and god-saint images standing in our (Catholic) churches/homes, which many of us are praying to, are the very images God forbids us to possess. Let's not harden our hearts. Let's turn away from all these, lest God's wrath be upon us all . . .
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.
They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:
They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:
They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.
They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them. (Psalms 115:4-8)


[1] Wikipedia, n.d., Black Nazarene,
[2] Manila Bulletin, 2014, Black Nazarene vigil starts,
[3] Photo from Wikipedia, n.d.,
[4] Got Questions, n.d., What is a graven image?

Let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No,' 'No'...