Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Pete Iorio
November 6, 2021 - 5:00 PM
November 7, 2021 - 11:00 AM
It is always good to do an examination of conscience. Based on the gospel, I would like to make a systemic examination of conscience. I hear is always the need to be self-aware, transparent, humble and repentant when necessary. The longer I am a priest and know Jesus of the Gospels, the more I know that challenging religious leaders was a major theme of his teaching.
This is exactly what is happening in the Gospel. Listen to this harsh language. I repeat what you just heard to emphasize his point: "Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation.
A pretext is a reason given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason. So just because they are praying does not mean that they are doing what they should be doing which at that time was to be a trustee for the estates of wealthy widows.
Devouring widows’ houses is Jesus’ condemnatory description of the source for the luxurious lives led by some scribes who impoverished gullible and pious widows who volunteered to support them. Further, these authorities were charged with distributing the temple collections to poorer widows and the needy. In actuality, however, some spent the funds on long robes, banquets, and temple decorations. This is how they devoured the estates of widows.
Jesus constantly critiqued the clergy of the temple. The whole system needed change. Anything that is above criticism will very soon be evil. That is why he states: They will receive a very severe condemnation.
Any system can become evil. Military industrial complex, healthcare, policing system, banking system, penal system, and even religious institutions like the Catholic Church. By stating this, I am not indicating that every person in the system is evil. We know that the Catholic Church still suffers from the systemic evil that was allowed to cover up the abuse scandal and protected the clergy. I am sure we all know people whose faith was scandalized and even destroyed by this corruption.
When civil or religious leaders can never admit wrongdoing, we are in trouble. Anyone or anything that will not admit fault will soon become evil. In our church, we have made some progress, but we have a long way to go in my opinion.
Honesty, transparency, vulnerability and care for the common good are values that Jesus stood for. His criticism of the religious-political-economic establishment is summed up when the accusation that the leaders have ransformed the whole temple system into a den of thieves (Mk 11:17). Today’s Gospel demonstrates why all those who held traditional positions of religious power found Jesus’ presence and preaching so disturbing.
It really does start locally. Pray for us and give input for the good of our parish. I am very glad as pastor that we prepared an accountability report for you and that our parish bookkeeper is excellent with regular reports in the bulletin. We want to be good leaders and good stewards. We priests will never text or email you to help us or somebody else. Evil scammers impersonating us are out there. Do not fall for it. And if you have something to share or ask regarding the parish, please come to me or Fr. Adam or the staff or parish council or finance council. As the parish system of Our Lady of Fatima, we certainly want to avoid corruption and condemnation. What motivates us more is serving Christ and building up the Kingdom of God.