Jesus "cleanses the Temple" in today's reading from Mark, besides taking his anger at the Pharisees out on a poor fig tree. Mark's description of the cleaning out of the temple of those who would change money in order to purchase sacrifices is (as with everything in Mark) quick, with not many details, but the underlying anger is readily apparent.
Part of the sacrilege Jesus was so upset about by these money-changers and people who sold small animals for sacrifice was, I think, a cheapening of the ritual liturgy of sacrifice. These folks were taking the idea of sacrifice and making it easy. That is not what the word sacrifice means.... easy. Sacrifice means something dear has ben purchased from us, some part of us is taken up in that offering to God. I think, also, Jesus knew the sacrifice he was about to voluntarily make, and this cheap version offered by those going to the Temple, and that offended him at a very deep place, for the cost to him was his life.
This reading from Mark is a gift to us this Monday of Holy Week. It allows us to enter Holy Week thinking about sacrifice and whether or not we are partaking in the cheap version or the real (and costly) one.
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.