Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.” Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
A young seminarian once asked Frank Sheed for advice on how to be a good priest. “Get to know Jesus,” replied the great Catholic publisher and apologist. “I mean really get to know him, not just about him, and you’ll know the essence of your faith and how to live it through your vocation.”
Today’s reading helps us know Jesus, and ultimately ourselves, better. Entering the scene, we see Jesus “clean house”—and not just any house, God’s house. It’s unclear as to how physical Jesus got, but it’s easy to imagine tables being overturned, coins flying, and shamed merchants shuffling out of the temple.
How do you relate to this Jesus?
Many favor the Jesus who heals, feeds, forgives, accompanies. I do too, but I have always gravitated toward this Jesus—the one who says it like it is, challenges leaders and rules that put people second, and shakes from his sandals the dust of any town that rejects him or his disciples.
Is it possible that the healing Jesus is the same as the radical Jesus? Is it possible that the Jesus who comforts also agitates?
Just before Jesus cleanses the temple, he enters Jerusalem to a crowd chanting, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” When the Pharisees tell Jesus to order his disciples to stop, Jesus responds, “if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” Then he weeps over Jerusalem and admonishes the people for failing to see God in their midst. Jesus is a compassionate king who focuses on what really matters.
Jesus, therefore, is a threat to those in power. But he’s not interested in politics and power plays. His focus is on the Kingdom, and in this case, the temple as a house of prayer where he and the people connect with God.
Whether healing, feeding, forgiving, admonishing, or turning tables, Jesus is one and the same. He is on mission, and he does what is required to serve that mission. Jealous leaders wanted to kill him, but they couldn’t because the people were “spellbound” by his words and deeds. Or, as some translations have it, the people “hung on his words.”
What if we hung on Jesus’ words? What if we got to know him, not just about him? How, then, might we live our faith and be on mission?
—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.
Lord, above all we really do want to get to know you, not just about you. Could it be that we will know you in how we treat the least of our brothers and sisters this day? How we treat the people who irritate us by their annoying ways; the person who does nothing to advance our tasks but needs our help? What about the person who needs to hear the truth? Will we care enough to speak with courage and consideration? Lord, the day is filled with opportunity to know you. We are ready!
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!