“Religion poisons everything!” someone screamed at me. “All religious people are after is money!” I hear that a lot. And I used to get defensive because I have a front row seat to see all the loving things religious people do.
These days it’s hip to hate religion. People seem to see only the bad things that religious people do. They read about the sexual abuse scandals, financial corruption and the flashy lifestyles of some high profile preachers, and they wonder if anything good can come from religion.
Believe it or not, Jesus had those same worries as those who hate religion. In today’s reading, Jesus criticized those who used power to dominate others rather than serve them. And he was especially appalled to see the widow give her last penny to a corrupt religious institution that had been built to placate the masses. Jesus lamented that she was giving all she had to live on to support a Temple that didn’t care about her.
That’s because Jesus had a vision for God’s people that was about love, forgiveness and service, rather than personal enrichment. And in my job, I see that vision being fulfilled by people just like you.
O God, help me to live your vision of love and compassion. Amen. — KP