YOU CAN’T BUY LOVE
When Jesus goes into the Temple of Jerusalem, he doesn’t find people seeking God, but a religious business. His violent act in the face of «sellers and money changers» isn’t anything but the reaction of a Prophet who finds religion turned into a market place.
That Temple, called to be the place where God’s glory and faithful love should be manifest, has become a place of deceit and abuse, where the love for money and biased commerce reign.
Whoever knows Jesus won’t be surprised by his indignation. If anything appears constantly in the very core of his message, it’s gratitude to God, who loves God’s sons and daughters without limit, and only wants to see fraternal love and solidarity among them.
That’s why a life that’s been turned into business, where everything is bought and sold –even our relationship with God’s mystery– is the most destructive perversion of what Jesus wants to promote. It’s clear that our life is only possible with interchange and mutual service. We all live giving and receiving. The danger comes in reducing our relationship to biased commerce, thinking that life only consists in selling and buying, sucking the last drop out of others.
Almost without realizing it, we can become «sellers and money changers» who don’t know how to do anything else but negotiate. Men and women unable to love, who have eliminated from our lives all that could be given.
It’s easy then to be tempted to negotiate even with God. We offer God some ritual to keep in good favor with God, we buy Masses or make promises to obtain from God some favor, we fulfill rituals to have God on our side. What’s grievous is forgetting that God is love, and you can’t buy love. So Jesus said that God «wants love and not sacrifices».
Maybe what’s first is that we need to hear today in the Church the announcement of God’s graciousness. In a world changed into marketplace, where everything is demanded, bought or earned, only what’s freely given can keep fascinating and surprising, since it’s the most authentic sign of love.
We believers need to be more attentive about not disfiguring a God who is freely-given love, making God fit our measurements: as sad, selfish and small as our marketplace lives.
Whoever knows «the sensation of grace» and has experienced at some point the surprising love of God, feels invited to spread gratitude, and is probably the best one to be able to introduce something new and good into this society where so many people die of loneliness, boredom and lack of love.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf