Church must be a place of meeting God, not of buying or selling.
According to Vatican News, Pope Francis stressed this during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, today Nov. 9, the feast of the dedication of Rome’s Lateran Basilica, stressing where you speak with the Lord cannot resemble a market.
Recalling today’s Gospel where Jesus finds and expels the merchants in the temple, the Pope highlighted that this place was full of idolaters, men ready to serve “money” instead of “God.”
“Behind money, there is an idol,” the Pope said, noting: “idols are always in gold. And idols make slaves.”
This episode, the Pope suggested, “reminds us of the way we treat our temples, our churches: if they truly are the house of God, house of prayer, of encounter with the Lord; if the priests are in favor of this, or if they look like markets.”
“Sometimes,” he added, “I saw … a price list. “But they are paying for sacraments?” “‘No, but it’s an offering…’ But if they want to give an offering, put it in the offerings box, let no one see how much you give.”
“Today, too, there is this danger: ‘But we must maintain the Church, our churches.’ Yes, yes, really. May the faithful maintain it, but in the offering box, not with a price list.”
The Pope observed: “Some celebrations of some sacrament, or memorial, where you stop and look: you do not know if the house of God is a place of worship or a social salon. Some celebrations slide towards worldliness.”
“It is true,” he said, “that the celebrations must be beautiful – beautiful – but not worldly, because worldliness depends on the god of money … it makes us think … how is our zeal for our churches, what respect do we have when we enter it?”
The heart of each represents “a temple: the temple of God,” recalled Pope Francis.
Pope Francis concluded, inviting for an examination of conscience: “I do not ask what is your sin, my sin. I ask if there is an idol inside you, if there is a lord of money. Because when there is sin, there is the merciful Lord of God who forgives if you go to Him.
“But if there is the other lord – the god of money – you are an idolater, that is to say a corrupt one: not a sinner, but a corrupt one,” the Pope continued, “the knot of corruption is precisely idolatry: it is having sold one’s soul to the god of money, to the god of power. It’s an idolatry.”