“Churches cannot be like some kind of supermarket, places of commerce perhaps with a price list for the sacraments,” affirmed Pope Francis at morning Mass on November 24 at Casa Santa Marta.

The Pontiff – Vatican Radio reports – comments on two readings: the first from the Book of the Maccabees, then the Gospel of Luke, in which he reads about the purification of the temple. Just as Judah and his brethren reconsecrate the profaned temple, so Christ expels the merchants from the house of the Lord.

St. John Chrysostom reproached those who made so many offers to adorn, to embellish the physical temple and did not take care of the needy. He would scold and say, “No, this is not good. First the service, then the ornamentation”. Purify, then, the temple which is the others.

Then comes gratuitousness, “How many times do we enter a temple with sadness; let’s think of a parish, a bishopric… yet we don’t know whether we are in God’s house or in a supermarket. There are trades going on there, there is also a price list for the sacraments. There is a lack of gratuitousness”, the Pope denounces. But “God saved us gratuitously, he did not make us pay anything,” he points out.

Before concluding, Jorge Mario Bergoglio anticipates an objection: money is needed to keep structures going, to keep the priests; “You give gratuitousness – he assures – and God will do the rest. God will do what is missing. Churches ought to be “service churches, free churches”.

Full story at La Stampa.