By: Maggie Leonard
Reflection—v. 16, ‘Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace’
In three of the four Gospels this story takes place after Jesus enters Jerusalem for the final time and serves as the final act which leads to his arrest. John’s version of this story has some marked differences, including the fact it is one of Jesus’ first acts of ministry. This action of frustration and anger toward the Temple system is a defining characteristic of Jesus’ ministry in John. In the other Gospels, Jesus proclaims, quoting scripture, that God’s ‘house of prayer has become a den of thieves.’ In John, it is not just those who cheat the poor but the entire system itself. In a fit of righteous anger, Jesus yells, ‘Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!’ while pouring out money and clearing the scene with a whip. Jesus finds offensive the sacrificial structures that undergird the Temple’s sustainability and define most of the faithful’s interaction with God. I sometimes wonder how Jesus would view the ways in which we fund our churches and the activities around which we gather.
Prayer Jesus, drive out the merchandisers from our temples.