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Our Church has always taught that Jesus is true God and true man. In this Sunday’s Gospel --- the familiar story of the cleansing of the temple --- we get a glimpse into Jesus’ humanity. We are told that Jesus “found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, ‘Take these out of here and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.’”
In addition to being a good example of Jesus’ humanity, what are we to make of this incident? First, it would be wrong to use this incident to justify our own outbursts of anger. I say this because Jesus’ anger was directed at a situation, not a person. It was not hurtful or vengeful. It was very controlled, specific and limited in duration. And its purpose was not to offend or put down. Rather, the point and purpose of Jesus’ anger was to call people back to the reason they came to the temple. The temple was not a place to conduct business; rather it was a place where people could worship and attend to their relationship with God. Jesus’ anger reminded them (and us) of this fundamental truth.
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of Exodus. It is the story of God giving the Ten Commandments to the Israelites. And as we all know, the third commandment is “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.” Clearly the people in today’s Gospel were not heedful of this commandment.
Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. In blunt and stark terms, Paul reminds us that “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Have you ever used Jesus’ display of anger to justify your own anger?
- How do you keep holy the Sabbath day?
- I suspect that for people who don’t come from a Christian background, the idea of a crucified Savior could be a stumbling block. How would you explain Jesus’ crucifixion to a non-Christian?