“Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace.” (Jn. 2:16}
Business as UsualThe presence of the animal vendors and money-changers in the Temple of Jerusalem comes out of practical necessity. When Jews from all over Palestine come to Jerusalem, especially during the important days like Passover, they will fulfill their religious obligation to offer their sacrifices in the Temple. Since it is impractical to bring a sacrificial animal like oxen, lambs, or turtledoves from their hometowns, the Jews prefer an easier solution by buying them in Jerusalem. It does not only save those Jewish pilgrims the hassle, but it gives the assurance also that the animals will be unblemished as the Law of Moses has prescribed. Therefore, many vendors have the authorization from the Temple elders that their animals are unblemished and ready for sacrifice. The Jews are also required to support the upkeep the Temple and the priests through so-called “Temple tax.” Yet, they are not allowed to pay the Temple tax with the Roman money because it bears the image of Caesar as a god, a blasphemy. Thus, they need to change their money with more acceptable currency. Here the role of money-changers come in. it is a kind of win-win solution for the pilgrims, the vendors, and the Temple authorities. We could imagine that with so many people visiting the Temple, the business must be buzzing and thriving. When Jesus comes and drives them all out of the Temple, surely it angers not only the vendors and the money-changers but also the Jewish authority and even ordinary Jewish pilgrims. The disappearance of this vendors and money-changers may mean that some people lose their earnings, some people find their profit disappear, and most people are irked by the inconveniences it causes. Jesus tells the reason behind his action, “the Jewish making His Father’s house a marketplace.” The very core of the Temple of Jerusalem is the encounter between God and his chosen people, between God the Father and His children, but with so many activities, trading, and noise, this essence of the Temple is lost. The Temple means usual business. The priests certify the sacrificial animals for the vendors, the vendors sell them to the pilgrims, and the pilgrims give the animals to the priests for the slaughter. Everyone goes home happy! Jesus’ action is to break this vicious cycle of “normalcy” that makes people’ worship shallow. Jesus criticizes the structure that exploits the Temple for mere profit and superficial fulfillment of religious obligation, and for making Jesus’ house into the marketplace. In this season of Lent, we ask ourselves, if Jesus comes to our church, diocese, parish, congregation, religious organization, and even our family, what will Jesus do? Will He drive us out like He drives out the vendors from the Temple? Or, will He make His home among you? While financial resources are important in helping our Church grow but do we make the Church an income-generating institution? While the leadership structure is essential in the Church and our smaller groups, but do we serve others, or exploit people? Do find peace and joy in our communities, or are they full of intrigues, gossips, unhealthy competitions? Do we encounter God in our Church, or simply find ourselves? We thank the Lord if we discover God, our Father, in our Church and community, but if we do not, we better to call Jesus to drive us away from His Father’s house.
Reflection January 30, 2018
"Go in Peace and Be Cured of your Affliction" The woman's affliction her hemorrhages was known to her alone, something that disturbed her and gave her discomfort. Each of us has painful secrets and personal issues. Allow Jesus to come to your life and heal you. His healing is our peace.Fr. Ching Salibay, O.P.