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Careful: You might be treating God like a pagan


Gravure tirée de Le Jupiter olympien ou l'art de la sculpture antique par Quatremère de Quincy (1815) © Wikipedia

Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 11/18/22

Jesus has a very serious reason to get angry: the Temple, which represents humanity’s relationship with God, is full of commerce and empty of love.

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.

“Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, ‘It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.’”

The expulsion of the sellers from the temple is one of those pages of the Gospel that clash a bit with our imagery of an always serene, peaceful, meek Jesus. Actually, those who know the meek know that they almost never get angry, but when they do get angry, it’s big trouble.

And Jesus has a very serious reason to get angry: the Temple, which represents humanity’s relationship with God, is full of commerce and empty of love. 

To understand the concrete fallout of this in our lives we can consider an example. How would we judge a relationship based only on opportunism? Would we consider it love, or hypocrisy?

Jesus is denouncing the opportunism that can lurk even in our relationship with God. If faith becomes only an exchange of petitions and graces then it’s no longer faith, but only religion, and a pagan one at that. Only when we reestablish a true prayerful relationship with God, which is a gratuitous relationship of good, does our religion cease to be pagan and become Christian faith.


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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