Today’s Gospel: John 2:13-22
Maybe it is because of all the years I spent as a child in Sunday School with framed pictures of a gentle, smiling Jesus looking kindly down at me from the walls, but I have a hard time thinking of Jesus as an angry, table-flipping man, scattering people and yelling at the men selling doves to get out of the temple. The image of Jesus being so angry makes me uncomfortable.
What are we to do with this story? The men changing money and selling animals for sacrifice in the temple were providing a service. When people arrived from great distances to make their sacrifices, they needed a place to purchase animals for their offerings. The money-changers and those selling doves and oxen were doing their jobs, and Jesus drove them out with a whip he made himself. It must have been quite a scene.
I think we can use this story as a cautionary tale. Jesus had a different relationship with the temple than other people did. He was fully aware that it was his Father’s house. Remember as a boy he had been at home there, staying behind to talk with the priests and elders when Mary and Joseph had left to travel home. Even then, as a young boy, with Mary and Joseph sick with worry and come back to find him, he said, “Didn’t you know I needed to be in my Father’s house?”
Because of His special relationship with God, Jesus had a special relationship with God’s house. The selling of animals and the changing of money may have been business as usual at the temple, but for Jesus, these activities shifted the focus from the holiness of that place. Maybe we run the risk of forgetting sometimes about the holiness of our churches, too. When we enter on Sundays, are we conscious of coming into a sacred space? When we pause at the font to dip our fingers in water and bless ourselves, do we take the moment to remember that we are entering a place removed from our ordinary life, set apart for the holy sacrifice of the Mass?
As Catholics, we have a great opportunity to be with Christ every time we enter His physical presence in our churches. Let us always remember that coming to Mass is never, “business as usual.”
How can we remind ourselves next time we enter our parishes that we are coming into a holy and sacred space where we will encounter Christ?
Jesus, thank you for the opportunity to be in your presence every time I go to Mass.
Copyright 2014 Abbey Dupuy