Question: Why are candles sold in church? After all, it’s altogether clear what the Gospel says about buying and selling in church -- specifically, that buying and selling are forbidden.
Answer: The sale of candles in church creates bustle and distracts from prayer. It is good when this can be done in another place. Unfortunately, this is not possible in most parishes.
One must make the distinction that the place in the Gospel which is normally cited need not apply to this. The moral meaning of the Gospel event is related to the condemnation of individual sellers who were earning money on a holy site (Jn 2:13-16). This also relates to the money-changers, who were also earning money, when the Lord altogether forbad taking a percentage (c.f., Ex. 22:25, Lev. 25:36-37; Deut. 15:8; Deut. 23:19-20). One should also note that the buying and selling was not in the temple, and in the forecourt of the temple galleries (no one but the high priest and priest could enter the Jerusalem temple!). In Holy Scripture sometimes the entire complex is called the temple, including the yard and the forecourts.
The acquisition of candles at the candle stall is a form of donation to the needs of the church. At the Jerusalem temple there were special receptacles for the donation of money to the temple (Jn 8:20). Our Lord Jesus Christ not only did not judge this custom, but even praised the widow who gave her two mites (Mk 12:41).
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Q & A with Fr Job, installment XI: