Holy Monday is the second day of Holy Week. The most notable of moments remembered on this day is that of Jesus “cleansing the Temple.” Picture the scene. Jesus has entered the city during one of the most important faith festivals of his day. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish pilgrims are milling about everywhere. They have made a pilgrimage from many countries to celebrate the great feast of Passover (Deuteronomy 16:16). Offering sacrifices and paying their taxes, the Jews engage the services of animal sellers and money changers, who provide a service on behalf of the priests. Even the faithful poor are buying small doves to offer as their act of worship. A loud, smelly “marketplace experience” has been created in a sacred space, during a time meant for worship and repentance. Jesus sees this, and becomes enraged. Flipping tables and forming a whip of cords (John 2:15), he shouts, “My house will be called a house of prayer!” (Matthew 21:13; Isaiah 56:7).
“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He over-turned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.” Matthew 21:12
turn the table on idolatry
SEE WHAT GOD SEES
and put a stop to injustice
Is Jesus inviting you to partner with him in challenging injustice?
In Matthew 21:12, we see Jesus in a holy rage that seems out of character with the “God of Love” we so often talk about in churches. Jesus seems to lose a measure of control as he encounters the market scene in the temple: “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “
- Why would currency exchanges and dove booths be so appalling, so revolting, as to demand such a harsh, physical display of disgust?
- Who would have been the most likely to be undercut in their currency exchange having travelled from a far away land?
- The poor and uneducated.
- Who would have been the most likely to only be able to afford the smallest creature, a dove, to offer in the worship setting of that day?
- The poor and the uneducated.
Jesus’ heightened response may have been, in many ways, toward the kind of misguided worship systems that ultimately devalue the poor. Today, systems (religious and otherwise) powered by money-making greed and carelessness with the weak and vulnerable are no less worthy of a royal table turning than those in Jesus’ day.
Injustice always flows from idolatry and misdirected worship.
- When we forget who God is, we forget who we are.
- When we forget who we are in God’s eyes, we forget the value of others.
We can all participate in a world that crushes the weak and the poor, without even being aware of the part we play. Ask God to show you if there is someone to be cared for, someone who needs you to be their voice, in your neighborhood, town, or city. Show them the grace of God, and let your actions be marked by generosity.
for Holy Monday
Lord, give me eyes to see what you see when you look at the world around me. I want to participate in acts of love and justice, carrying your love to the world.
for Your Easter Reflection
- Is there an opportunity to weave more care for the poor and the socially vulnerable into your life?
- If you got involved, what kind of effect do you think it would have on both your public and private life of worship?