Today is the third Sunday of Lent. I can’t believe we are halfway through this Lenten season. Our Gospel today is from John 2:13-25. I would like to call your attention to verses 13 through 16. This is the famous story of Jesus getting very angry in the temple area overturning tables, making a whip out of cords and generally causing a great ruckus. This is not the Jesus we are accustomed to seeing. The Jesus we know is calm and gentle, rarely losing his temper. What happened today to cause Jesus to act so differently?
The event we hear about today takes place in the Court of the Gentiles. The temple was constructed in concentric circles from the Holy of Holies in the center to the Court of the Gentiles. The 1st circle is for the Holy Scriptures the Jews refer to as the Torah. It consists of the most holy books of the Old Testament and writings of the prophets. The 2nd circle is reserved for Jewish men. The 3rd circle is reserved for Jewish women. The 4th circle is the Court of the Gentiles!
Jesus is angry because the place designated for the Gentiles has been overtaken by moneychangers, sellers of sacrificial items and so on. These people all have a place. However, they are not to occupy the place set aside in the Temple for prayer. Once we know the story, we begin to realize why Jesus was out of character. He was reacting to a great injustice toward the people of God who are not Jewish.
I guess the question that comes to mind for me is: how do we treat those who are not members of the “inner circle?” Do they receive the respect due them? Are we sometimes prejudice when it comes to people of other faiths or who look different? Do we treat the poor the same way we would treat someone who has money? These are not easy questions, but they need to be addressed.
There are three weeks left in Lent. Wouldn’t this be a good day to begin to think about Jesus and what happened in the temple so long ago?
Peace and All Good!