Den of Thieves…
Corruption at the Temple showed that Jesus could get angry too:
They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area. Then he taught them saying, “Is it not written: ‘My house shall be called a house of prayerfor all peoples’? But you have made it a den of thieves.” The chief priests and the scribes came to hear of it and were seeking a way to put him to death, yet they feared him because the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching. -Mark 11:15-18, NAB
Christ was very caring and loving to those around Him, but He was also not afraid to confront the wickedness of our hearts. Entering the Temple, the corruption upset Him, and He was not going to allow them to do this to His Father’s house.
Why did Jesus get so upset? Didn’t the Temple need a way to raise money to support itself? Yes, but this is not exactly what was happening. The money-changers (think of a currency exchange) would charge inflated prices for the approved currency, and vendors selling animals for sacrifice sold them for outrageous prices. In essence, they were stealing from God’s people in His own house.
From time to time, you will hear this verse being thrown around when parishes try to raise money in various ways. Sometimes, I can see how this applies, but I do not see anything wrong with raising money in fair, honest ways. Holding a bake sale or selling Catholic books can be a great way to bring much needed funds to the parish.
The primary difference between the Temple money-changers and a parish fundraiser is that no one profits from the fundraiser. The money raised at a Church bake sale, rummage sale, or book sale goes to support the parish, not into the pockets of the parish priests or staff. The vendors at the Temple were getting rich by ripping people off; a parish fundraiser helps support a worthy cause.
Of course, opinions differ about this. Some may still feel uncomfortable raising money for the parish in these ways, and that’s okay. They may be more conservative in this respect, but it is better to be more conservative than overly liberal. There is nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution.
What’s your opinion? What are acceptable and unacceptable ways of raising money for the parish?