1 Pt 4:7-13
Two strange things happen in this gospel. But it starts out very prosaically with Jesus entering the temple in Jerusalem, as Mark says, ‘looking around at everything’ and retiring peacefully to Bethany for the night with his twelve disciples. The next day however, all hell seems to break loose. As they’re returning to Jerusalem, Jesus who is hungry sees a fig tree, and even though the gospel says, “it was not the time for figs”, he is so upset that he curses the tree and it withers and dies. Then, as he and his disciples enter the temple area, Jesus suddenly starts acting like a wild man, driving out the moneychangers, overturning tables and chairs and shouting that they’ve made his Father’s house of prayer ‘a den of thieves’. What came over him? Didn’t he see the moneychangers and those selling animals for sacrifice the day before? Why this sudden streak of violence?
Even though the cleansing of the temple is recorded in all four gospels, Mark places it here as a prelude to Jesus’ final entrance into Jerusalem and his passion and death. Jesus stirs up so much animosity that the chief priests and the scribes want to kill him. Mark wants us to view this scene as a parable in action.
Perhaps Jesus was angry at seeing how poor people coming to worship God were being ripped off by moneychangers. Another explanation, found in John’s gospel, has his disciples attributing his anger to the words of Scripture, “Zeal for your house consumes me”. Obviously Jesus placed worship of God as the highest good. We know from experience how easy it is for us to become careless, and so this gospel calls us to put our priorities in perspective. As God’s children, let us reflect on how sacred that relationship is, and to live accordingly. Constantly nourished and strengthened by God’s Word and Sacraments, it is our Christian vocation to bear fruit and to be faithful at all times, whether in season or out of season.
- Fr. Damian Towey, CP is a member of the community at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center,North Palm Beach,Florida.