What happens when you go to church and discover that all sense of respect and reverence for God, people and sacred space is being abused and violated? If you are Jesus in the Gospel, you get angry and start cleaning things up. He arrived at the temple to begin the celebration of Passover. What began as a service to the people, the selling of animals for the ritual observances, turned into a circus. Merchants were over charging the people and cheating them in making change. All sense of decorum and respect for the temple was gone. So Jesus cleared everyone out (John 2:13-35).
The Gospel invites us is to consider the temples that may need cleaning in our lives. For starters, where do we need to do some cleaning in the temples of our personal lives? Maybe in this time of the pandemic we have become increasingly critical of others or impatient with all that’s being demanded of us. Maybe arrogance needs to be cleaned out as we are sure we could do things so much better than somebody else, or we think we are the only ones who have it right. How about our attitudes about people? Has some prejudice about others crept in? In light of recent political unrest or acts of violence might we be giving up on the goodness of humanity? How about our mindsets about money and accumulating things? Have we become intent on amassing more and more? What might be holding us back from loving the way we could, or receiving somebody else’s love?
How about the temple of the world? Maybe we need to clean out a mentality that sees human beings only through the eyes of someone’s usefulness to us. We increasingly prize political victory over the common good. The loudest voice or whoever gets in the headline first is more important than wise counsel that is everywhere if we will just listen.
Why clean these and other temples? To make room for the redeeming power and presence of God in our world. Sometimes things sound foolish and naïve, like a world that renounces the violent solution, respects the dignity of human life, promotes the common good, acts with humility and advocates for a more equal distribution of the world’s goods. But then again, a supposed Messiah hanging dead on a cross sounded foolish too (I Cor. 1:22-25). Until he was not dead anymore. Until the power of God’s love raised him up victorious over sin and death. Sounds like it is time to get cleaning.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector