Sometimes I look out at the town around me and I’m struck by the huge amount of wealth that I see every day. How many millions of dollars worth of cars, buildings, and property pass under our eyes in a single trip past the mall? And it’s even more striking when you visit a large city, when you can take in many trillions of dollars worth of stuff at a single glance.
I think that’s something Jesus must have felt as he finally arrived at Jerusalem, as “he looked around at everything” (Mark 11:11), taking in the sights. It was a mighty city, filled with stone walls and grand plazas, with the most beautiful walls and the most bustling plaza being at the Temple. And at some point it was all too much for Jesus, and as related in this week’s gospel passage (John 2:13-22) he cleared the temple court of all the merchants selling animals and changing money, saying “Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”
There are a lot of reasons why Jesus cleared the temple. It was an important religious, economic, and political act, and at its heart it told the people of Jerusalem that you can’t buy God. You can’t just throw money at sacrifices and fancy buildings and expect everything to be OK. Without justice, without peace, without a faith that worships God who lives in the human heart all the wealth in the world is just a hindrance.
So if you find yourself noticing all the riches that surround you, take a moment to think on the much greater wealth that is the Spirit of Christ. There is a place for marketplaces, for malls and stock markets, but that place is not in the court of our temple, it is not where they can block the way for the poor and the foreigner to come to God. It is good that we have built and crafted so much, but all of it is worthless if we don’t have love.
May an uncomfortable awareness of how our society spends its money pester and pursue each of us this week.
God’s grace be with you all,