A long time ago I learned a simple truth that is so often misunderstood. It is saying that goes like this, “Vice is virtue gone to excess.”

Just think about that for a moment. A really good thing such as a virtue can become a bad thing, a vice, by becoming excessive.

What is necessary here is balance. Too much of a good thing can become less beneficial and even become harmful.

For example in today’s gospel story Jesus recognizes the hypocrisy of the money changers in the Temple. It started as a good thing. It was a service to exchange Roman coins, the common currency but evil because of the engraved image of Ceasar, and unfit to use in the Temple. They offered to exchange the profane money into temple money so people could buy the necessary items for their sacrifice to be offered which also a good thing.

However, the money counters took this essential service to a place of greed and personal gain breaking the balance and leading them into a shameful and sinful practice of gouging the public.

So Jesus confronts their vice, drives them away and reminds everyone of the real reason they are there in the Temple, namely, to offer sacrifices to God in gratitude for God’s love and mercy.

What then about us? Are we pursuing virtues or letting them become vices?

Fr

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