As I read Sunday’s gospel to prepare for mass, I was stuck by Jesus’ humanity in this scene. He walks into the temple – a very holy place – set aside for God, for worship – and people have turned it into a three-ring circus for personal gain. Jesus is infuriated! He cracks a whip, flips over tables and yells. This doesn’t sound like the cool, calm, collected and gentle Jesus who healed the blind and welcomed the little children.
Sometimes, when my students hear this passage, they are shocked by Jesus’ anger, and say, “I thought Jesus never sinned.” This kind of anger is not a sin – it’s called righteous fury – when a person is rightfully angry over an evil or injustice. There are so many things going on in the world today that should call forth righteous fury from the bosom of every human being. Tables need to be overturned and sin courageously and unapologenically called sin. As Christians, we must be people of mercy, kindness and forgiveness, as Christ himself taught us to be. We must also have courage to admonish the sinner – an almost forgotten spiritual work of mercy.
This passage also makes me think of the dilemma of shopping on the Sabbath. I try hard not to shop for unnecessary items on Sunday. I realize that though I might find shopping a pleasurable activity, my enjoyment means that someone else has to work. Last Sunday, one of my kids was feeling under the weather, so I popped into Target to pick up some cold medicine. While I was there, I remembered that I had promised to purchase a bunch of trinkets for my son’s teacher’s treasure chest at school. Without giving it another thought, I filled a hand basket with stuff from the dollar spot. As I approached the check out, I noticed that the lines were unusually long. As the cashier rang up my purchases, she commented, “Where did all these people come from? I thought today was the Lord’s Day?!” Guilt ripped through my brain like electricity through a copper wire! She was right! It was the Lord’s Day, and in my shopping excitement, I had forgotten that!
Just some food for thought!