Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.'” – Matthew 21:12-13
Here we witness Christ in the act of protest, a protest against corruption of the House of Herod’s Temple. Herod’s Temple was more a nationalistic display of power by the corrupt Herodian dynasty, a dynasty that declared itself a “royal and priestly” line of Kings. The Temple was one of Herod’s magnificent building projects that he and sons used to restore “glory” to Israel, to make Israel “Great Again.” Why even the Herod who began this project was known as Herod the Great, guilty of using the Faith in pursuit of political power.
The massive building projects were expensive and required ongoing sources of revenue. The renting out of tables and booths for various vendors of religious goods and services was part of that flow of revenue. And like so many ventures, the fundraising becomes more and more the mission of the endeavor.
In walks a rabbi with his traveling rabbinical school of disciples, a ragged bunch from the backwoods region of Galilee, a band of preachers who had no authorization or vested power to question the leaders of the Temple. And this ragamuffin rabbi does a most shocking and disrespectful act … He participates in a demonstration of protest. Overturning the tables would not have resulted in any permanent change … but it served to focus the attention of many who were disappointed, discouraged and disgusted with both the extravagance of the Herods and the indifference of the Temple leadership to the needs of the common people.
But this protest by this Galilean rabbi was unnerving to Herod and the Temple leadership … for it exposed their corruption and inspired a movement of revolutionary change.
The turning over the table of the moneychangers whose work was to exchange for a fee foreign currency into acceptable Temple currency… the disruption of Temple commerce the selling of doves and lambs for Temple sacrifices … was a cry by Christ on behalf of the people and on behalf of God …”WE DO NOT NEED THE EXTRAVAGANCE OF THIS HERODIAN DISPLAY OF POWER … but rather we need to recover our humility and be about the work of holy prayer.
History has repeated this conflict between political power in the guise of religion, over and over again.
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz