Sunday, July 21, 2013
If Only I Had Known
Today, in the traditional calendar, is the 9th Sunday after Pentecost. The Gospel is a familiar one from St. Luke where Our Lord has an encounter with the money-changers in the Temple. I think pretty much everyone, Catholic and non, is familiar with this story. You know the one---Jesus gets mad, flips over some tables, and calls people thieves. This Scripture has been interpreted 10 ways to Christmas, by Catholics and Protestants alike. But today, I heard this Gospel explained by a true Catholic priest and it opened my eyes just a little more to the beauty of our Faith. I would like to share it with you and hope and pray I stay true to Father's instruction.
It is impossible to understand Catholicism without a fundamental knowledge of Biblical Judaism. As such, a little explanation of Jewish law is necessary to grasp what was happening that day in the Temple and why Our Lord became so annoyed with it. According to a Jewish law established by Moses, each year, every adult male aged 20 and over was required to pay a tax to the Temple. The tax was the same for everyone---a 1/2 shekel or a shekel---paid once a year, and only in Tyrian coinage, a coin that was minted with near pure silver. Since it was a requirement for all Jews to make the pilgrimage to offer sacrifices at the Temple during Passover, the tax collection tables were set up around Jerusalem also at the time. Most people didn't carry around with them Tyrian shekels. Instead, they carried the coins used in their native lands and had to have it exchanged into shekels to pay their taxes. Ergo the money-changers. To make currency exchange easier, the money-changers set up their tables right in front of the Temple so pilgrims could exchange their currency and pay their taxes at the same. And in Jesus's time the money-exchange had become big business. Likewise, selling animals for the required Passover sacrifice also became big business.
Just like the rules for taxes, there were also specific rules for animals for the Passover sacrifices. While a spotless lamb was the usual Passover sacrifice, poor people could offer instead two turtledoves. But it was incredibly difficult for Jews during this time to travel to Jerusalem, let alone travel with lambs or turtledoves. As such, merchants often sold sacrificial animals along the way and in the city to make it easier for people to offer their sacrifices. Many of them could be purchased for small amounts. However, the Temple was set up with priests inside to judge whether or not a persons sacrifice was acceptable. More often than not, the priests did not accept the sacrifices but offered instead their own lambs and doves for sale at a much higher price. Thus the Temple not only became a market, it also became a way for the Jewish authorities and priests to exploit and oppress the poor for their own profit.
It was for this reason, then, that Our Lord became angry at the Jews and wept over them. They had become corrupt, money-loving thieves. They cared not if some poor old couple, devout in their prayers and faithful to God, could afford to buy doves for their sacrifices. They cared not about charging excessive exchange rates for taxes and pocketing the money. The Jews in authority, the priests, no longer were concerned about God's laws, they cared about themselves. They had been given the true faith, the only covenant and they were about to lose it all. And Our Lord could do nothing but let them be and cry.
Does Our Lord's statement to the Jews apply to us? Has the Catholic Church become a den of thieves? When the Jews set up their tables to exploit the poor, the Lord flipped their tables and ran them out of the Temple. In the Middle Ages, corrupt clerics took advantage of the poor and sold indulgences. As a punishment, the Lord allowed the Protestant Revolt to form, take root, and explode. In contemporary times, we have our own corruption---the Vatican bank is embroiled in more than one corruption scandal at the moment. And who knows how many money-grubbing "priests" there are like John Corapi. As a punishment for this, the Lord has allowed hundreds of Churches to shutter their windows, close their schools, and pay out millions to the little boys the priests have molested. And just as the Jews set out to silence and murder Our Lord for His Truthfulness, the modern Catholic Church sets out to silence and marginalize traditional Catholic clerics and lay people who refuse to support the concilliar Church and who remain faithful to the One True Church.
I am incredibly grateful, today, that I have the ability and means to a good priest, a true priest, faithful to the Magisterium, and unafraid to defend the True Church. I am grateful I have access to the True Mass and the Sacraments. It's an injustice of incredible proportions that the concilliar Church has become so corrupted, so pillaged, so desecrated, that most Catholics don't know what the True Church is must less where to find it. If only I had known, I would have flipped the tables long ago. Surely, our chastisement is coming soon.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
St. Joseph, Protector of the Church, pray for us!
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!