Cleansing of the Temple

John 2: 13-22
Ezk 47:1-2,8-9,12/Ps 46/1Cor.3:9-11,16-17

“Take all this away and stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture: ‘Zeal for your House devours me as a fire.’
(John 2:16-17)

Let our Church be a font of grace,
Where we honor Christ’s sacrifice;
Don’t treat it like a marketplace,
True worship doesn’t have a price.

As the Passover neared, livestock traders began to congregate in the temple courtyard, as this was the time of the year for the Jews to buy sheep or oxen for their Passover meals. Currency dealers also set up shop to take advantage of pilgrim Jews from foreign lands who had come to the temple for this important festival. When Jesus saw how commerce was desecrating that place of worship, He made a whip out of cords and drove the traders and money changers out of the temple grounds. In so doing, our Lord showed the officials and the people His authority to cleanse His Father’s house of the impurities being allowed by the high priests of the temple.

Reflection

“What authority gives you the right to do this?” the Jews questioned Jesus. For one who seemed to be a maverick against the traditional practices of the Jews, Jesus had performed an outrageous act in order to preserve the very traditions of Mosaic law, which emphasized holiness in all aspects of worship. For one Who was noted for His gentle nature, this ‘outburst’ was also meant to expose the hypocrisy of the high priests and pharisees, whose love for money gave license to the traders to ply their trade in holy grounds where only prayers and offerings were traditionally allowed. Thus His ‘outrage’ was justified, as He quoted Jeremiah (7:11): My house shall be a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves. (Mt.21:13)

This Gospel passage clearly demonstrates our Lord’s righteous indignation against those who use the Church or its facilities for commercial profit. Our Lord reminds us that no man can serve two masters. “He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Mt.6:24)

Like the proverbial saw that says, east and west, never the twain shall meet, who indeed can serve both God and mammon? And yet we see it often enough in some enterprising people who regard the Church community as one big marketplace where they can sell their farm produce. Or some brothers or sisters who take advantage of their membership in the brotherhood to build their direct selling network. We often hear it said, “nothing is sacred anymore.” In our need to make money, we can lose sight of the real purpose of our life in the renewal. Trust is one of the pillars of our brotherhood, simply because we regard each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. If our business venture fails, that pillar of trust is eroded and weakened. Remember, nothing must ever compromise our faith. Not even the promise of millions.

Lord, may we honor Your Church as we honor the temple of Your Holy Spirit. Help us to keep the secular out of the sacred so that we may never desecrate what is holy, as You have made us holy. Amen.

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