Pope Francis has warned against exploiting charitable works carried out in the name of God for personal interest and has invited the faithful to make Lent a good time to remove all forms of idolatry from our hearts and works.
By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis addressed the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus on the 3rd Sunday of Lent with a reflection on how to avoid the temptation of seeking only to increase our own advantages and interests and to live for the glory of God.
Reflecting on the Gospel reading of the day which narrates the episode in which Jesus drives the merchants and the money changers from the temple of Jerusalem, Pope Francis said the message contained in the reading is an invitation to all of us to not live our lives in search of personal profit, but for the glory of God, which is love.
Francis noted that Jesus’s action in the temple was a powerful one and it aroused the hostility of religious authorities and of those who felt threatened in their economic interests, but he said, it was not a violent action so much so it did not even call for intervention of security officers.
He pointed out that the question posed by his action was that of authority, in fact the Jews asked Jesus “What sign can you show us for doing this?” as if they were asking for proof that He really acted in the name of God.
Jesus gives life to the cult of love
The Pope explained that when Jesus answered with the words: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” he was speaking about the temple of his body, thus giving life to a new cult: the cult of love, with Himself as the temple.
We are called today, the Pope said, to keep in mind Jesus’ powerful words: “Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace”.
“They help us, he said, to avoid the danger of making our soul, which is the abode of God, a marketplace, and not to live in the constant search for profit but rather in generous and supportive love”.
Avoid temptation to take advantage of charitable works
This teaching of Jesus, Francis continued, is always relevant, not only for ecclesial communities, but also for individuals, for civil communities and for societies. In fact, he noted, it is common practice to tempt people to take advantage of good and even necessary activities to cultivate private, if not even illicit, interests. This – he said – represents a grave danger, especially when God Himself and the worship due to him, or service to man – who was created in His image – are exploited.
Pope Francis concluded asking the Virgin Mary to support us in our commitment to make Lent a good opportunity to recognize God as the one Lord of our life, removing every form of idolatry from our heart and our works.