Chop! Chop! Chop!

Wiping away the perspiration rolling down his broad forehead, the burly Englishman heaved his axe and struck again.

Chop! Chop! Chop!

The bitter cursing that greeted his first swings died down to an uneasy grumble. “How stiff-necked man can be,” he thought. “Old Elijah knew that,” he mused, remembering a snippet of Scripture: How long will you straddle the issue? If the Lord is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him. The thought added gusto to his stroke.

Chop! Chop! Chop!

“Seriously, a tree?” he pondered, incredulous. “The children of Israel exchanged their glorious God for images of dumb, grass-eating animals. These people take it a step further. Out with the incarnate God who died to save them and in with this tree. It’s a nice tree and all, but that grass-eating ox could at least trot along, nibble its precious leaves, and prance away merrily. Every day has its idol, I suppose. An ox, a tree, power, sex, innovation, science, the state, the self. All good things in themselves, but prefer them above all else and you’ve got an idol on your hands. We’ll always need those words: Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

Chop! Crash! Thud!

The collapse was met with a stifled cry. And then silence. Unease gave way to perplexity on the faces of the fence-sitters. Embedding his ax with one final swing in the trunk of tree, the bishop, unharmed by Thor’s vengeful hammer, turned to preach the Gospel of a God neither bovine nor arboreous, but the one who made beast and tree, ordering all things in his wisdom.

***

“That was all long ago now,” the old man thought. “Many idols have we smashed, raising churches of the true God in their place. Still, idols pop up and seduce. How silly we can be, settling for paltry pieces of creation when we can have the Creator instead. Well, so it will be until the end of time, I suppose.”

“But, I will witness still to my Savior, as the ancient fathers, even to the shedding of blood.”

With creaking joints, the wizened Englishman stood to face the bitter cursing of the encircling mob. Stepping forward from the pagan crowd, the heathen heaved his ax and struck.

Chop! Chop! Chop!

 

 

This piece was originally written by Br. Damian Day, O.P.