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Are you trying to “purchase” God’s favor?


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Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 11/09/22

Is there a pagan attitude toward God lurking in your way of dealing with him?
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Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.

Perhaps we may think rather hastily that the strong reaction Jesus has in today’s Gospel refers only to the great temptation to mix money and the sacred. While this temptation has never left religious experience, in my opinion it hides something deeper.

“He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, ‘Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.’”

Money and commerce give us the illusion that we can control the divinity. God obviously does not need money, but to imagine that we can purchase his benevolence, attention, and love with some form of exchange, trade, or merit is what underlies the perverse custom of mixing money with the things of God. 

But God’s matters are really His only if they bear one of the most important characteristics of His Being, and that is gratuitousness. Only God gives totally freely and asks nothing in return for His Love. To live as if He demanded something from us would mean attributing to Him the characteristics of paganism.

Today the Gospel challenges us to ask ourselves whether or not our relationship with God comprehends this gratuitousness.


Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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