Churches, Churches, Churches

Now for the first question, What is the church brick and mortar or people? People. With that as a definition of a church, why would the Church celebrate the dedication of a church? In this case the Basilica of St. John Lateran, it is because that church building is a symbol of the legalization of Christianity and we can consider this celebration to be similar to a wedding anniversary. For the Christian Church, just like a wedding, it is the anniversary of the beginning of the Christian Church when it finally became legal to be a Christian just like a wedding marks the beginning of a legal marriage. Just like the beginning of a marriage, the legalization of the Christian Church is something to be celebrated.

In our 1st reading the Jews were in exile in Babylon and they were dreaming about rebuilding their church/temple in Jerusalem. They were dreaming about all the good that comes out of it, essentially God’s blessings as exemplified by water.

In the 2nd reading Paul reminds the Corinthians the he was blessed to be called to lay a foundation for the Christian Church with them, just as Fr. Baiocchi, along with others, laid the foundation for JOS. Paul reminded them that they are the holy Church, just as Fr. Frank does, that God lives in them and that it is up to them to keep that Church holy.

Now that we have an answer to the first question, the second question is: why was Jesus so upset when he came into the temple? He finally realized what was happening in Court of the Gentiles section of the Temple. The merchants and the moneychangers were abusing the Church, the people of God. The merchants were selling animals to be used as sacrifices at prices which were 18 to 20 times what they were available outside of the temple or if the worshipers brought their own animals to sacrifice, the temple authorities would define them as not sufficiently perfect to qualify as appropriate sacrifices thereby requiring the people to purchase acceptable animals at those extravagant prices. In addition, the money changers were converting the Roman coins in exchange for the Temple coins, the Galilian shekel, which were required to pay the temple tax and demanding a 20% commission. Jesus recognized that the merchants and the money changers were fleecing the poor to benefit themselves. They were changing divine worship into a profit and loss enterprise, thereby having irreligious disregard not just for the temple and divine worship but as well for the people of God.

Do you and I ever have a business mindset of profit and loss in our divine worship? Do we ever say to God, if I do a certain activity like make a novena or pray a certain group of prayers every day, God will grant a specific desire of mine. Or as many people in the past believed, and some still do believe, that they were required to attend Mass every Sunday, that is, fulfill “my Sunday obligation” only out of fear of “mortal sin” and its consequent eternal punishment. Both of these and many others like them are truly divine worship with a business mindset of profit and loss.

Running our lives and business dealings with a mindset of profit and loss is a needed way of life but it is totally out of place in divine worship. In contrast to a mindset of profit and loss, our relationship with God needs to be like that of a child to a parent with no thought of profit or gain but only one reflecting mutual love and respect.

Many things have changed since the time of Christ. People then considered churches to be holy places, places of worship and we still do. Jews at that time believed that God was only present in the Temple and in heaven. In contrast today we believe that God is present everywhere, that is, in each of us and in everything. One thing that hasn’t changed is that divine worship is still not to be accomplished with a mentality of winning or losing, but one of mutual love and respect. In our worship it the appropriate time to utilizing one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, wonder and awe of God.

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