The Readings can be found at the USCCB’s website here.
Jesus Drives Out the Moneychangers from the Temple
It is hard to pray when worldly things are on our mind–is it not? The reving motors on the street, the contant staccato of television, even the hum of electricity all serve to distract me from prayer. It’s hard to pray when we have disagreements with co-workers or when we can’t figure out how we are going to make ends meet. And when the ways of the world envitably begin to sneek into and sometimes overcome our sacred space, our temples both literal buildings and the ones within our own selves, we need to shake things up again.
We need Jesus to us drive out…and into a more contemplative space.
The Moneychangers were not simple salesmen selling gifts and animals and such in the temple like we sell books and rosaries in our parish bookstore. No the moneychangers were people who took advantage of the poor. In order to be ritually clean, Jews had to literally exchange their money from the usual secular coins to a temple coin in order to buy an animal to feed their family or trade for other goods. The exchange was never a fair one with the moneychangers profitting off the poor. Some scholars say this is what evoked Jesus’ anger–but it goes beyond the moneychangers themselves into a system that allows this to happen in the first place. The temple chief priests certainly knew what was going on–and they let it happen. They were allowing the poor to remain poor and keeping them indebited unfairly to a temple system that kept them in the inertia of poverty.
We need Jesus to drive us out…into a world that keeps people at bay and allows us to remain as a prejudiced people in society.
But what else does this system prohibit? The moneychangers did all of this within a temple that was designed to include everyone in praying together. In keeping the community one–despite the obvious differences of race and class.
Who are the moneychangers today? We all are. I know I hold some reservations about working with the homeless. I don’t often pray for people I don’t like–much less, pray with them. I’m ready at times to step on people in order to be just a slight be superior to them as well.
I need Jesus…to drive me out of my comfort zone where I indeed am a moneychanger from time to time.
In Nicaragua there is indeed a temple that was built by my own hands with other people at an orphanage for disabled children. Whenever I go to that chapel I notice a few things:
1) It is far from beautiful. There’s no stained glass. The foor is usually dingy or has paint stains on it. There’s cheap and tacky Catholic knick-knacks all around the place.
2) It is almost always quiet–until the children come in and then it is excruciatingly noisy and rambunctious.
3) It is the one place I always go to in my mind when I need to feel God’s presence in my life.
In that sacred space I would sit with Elvira–a child who had spina bifida and really couldn’t do much of anything–and in those peaceful moments there was no need for money, racial segregation had no place there, our gifts and talents were often rendered useless and in the silence within the filthy walls and the torn drapes, we realize that God is very much present.
We didn’t need the best choir or good preaching and I didn’t long to put my ipod on or escape into a good book. I was enough for her and she was enough for me.
And our temple, dirty and all, was more than enough for Jesus to drive me into His loving presence in the simple silence.