Devotion 15-11-8 True Faith

My Dear Congregation! Having Faith is not always easy and the instructions from the Catholic Lectionary for today show that even the Church Authorities themselves are still struggling to promote meaningful Faith and not just rites.

Mark 12: 38 to 44: [38] And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and [love] salutations in the marketplaces, [39] And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: [40] Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation. [41] And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. [42] And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. [43] And he called [unto him] his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: [44] For all [they] did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, [even] all her living.

How could she give all her living? In early Christian Society everything was shared:

Acts 4: 32: And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any [of them] that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

That was the ideal for which Christians should strive and in this society it is easy to give. Nevertheless the widow did not live in such a society. She acted in faith for a better world.

And how do we act today? Who would have such faith? Not many and, I suppose, that is the reason why the Catholic Lectionary makes the first three verses of the reading in Mark optional, so the priest can decide whether he would speak in Church against well dressed people who have a lot of business friends or acquaintances who ‘work’ in the financial ‘industry’ and devour widow’s houses just as a matter of course. Is this too common in today’s society? Have you noticed the increase of homeless in recent years? Does the Catholic Church have to fear a loss of followers, if these verses are read out? Should we fear this or should we boldly read them out?

Rom. 13: 1: Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

St. Paul wrote this to the Christian Community in Rome. Some might have expected a Kingdom to be established with violence as kingdoms were usually established, but less than four hundred years after the Apostle Paul wrote this, the whole Roman Empire was converted to Christianity by words, not by violence.

In those days people lived simple lives, most of them on farms which provided for the people who lived on them. There was not a lot of need for money. In many areas taxes were paid in produce. Priests would live on donations of produce brought by their congregation. What would prostitutes bring? Prostitution only fell in disrepute in Europe with the onset of Syphilis with the return of the fleet of Christoph Columbus from America in the late fifteenth century. And Even the Apostles had Sex!

Now as commercialism permeated more and more layers of society and priests had to pay cash more and more for their food and other services. The Church had to deal with commercialism and so it also began to ask for money. In the twelfth century the first money boxes appeared in Churches and the Church began more and more to charge cash for its services, for example the ringing of Church Bells. Charging money for absolution was one of the causes of what is called the Reformation. Unfortunately it was not a reformation but another schism in the Church which still continues to exist today. Fortunately this division gets bridged more and more by the common faithful.

The Church has never dealt well with commercialism. This weakness has caused a lot of criticism against the Church. Christians have to interact with commercial society but we have to keep our Faith when we have to bow to Rimmon (2. Kings 5: 18) or rather to the bull god of whom there is an image outside the Wall Str. Stock Exchange, the most holy Temple of modern Western commercial society. (That fact that we do have other gods besides god and even believe even in science as if it was a religion is explained in Greetings from Paradise in the chapter ‘In the Beginning’.)

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.