Jesus chases people from the forecourt of the Temple in John's Gospel today. Overturning tables, tossing money on the floor, yelling at people selling doves to get out, all paint a different picture of the Jesus we are accustomed to hearing and reading about in Scripture.
The custom and practice in temple worship was for an offering to be made, to honor God. A whole system developed around that custom that involved having to change the secular currency into currency acceptable for use in the temple, and that coinage used to purchase animals that could be sacrificed (or symbolically sacrificed) on the altar in the hidden sanctuary. The system that developed not only enriched those who did the trading and selling, but made the whole theological idea behind the "sacrifice" those efforts were to be reminiscent of, easier for those partaking in the rituals.
One of the things that so angered Jesus was the "making easier" part of this system. By its very name, "sacrifice" is not supposed to be easy, or made easier. The concept, the reason for the act, the remembrance of the past sacrifices being made easier, was offensive to the very root of Jesus' being, because it cheapened the meaning of the ritual, undercutting it's purpose for existence.
Where are we cutting corners in our spiritual lives? Where we are short-changing our selves in the experience the rituals and practices we follow are leading us? What are we trying to make easy, and in so doing, cheapening the experience, and the meaning behind those efforts?
Copyright 2012, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Magnolia blossom, National Cathedral, 2006, jfd+