The Feast of the Lord's House
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Saint John Lateran
November 9, 2008
He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the area."
How can it be that we find Jesus in this Sunday's gospel with a whip in his hand, driving people out of the temple? It somehow seems uncharacteristic of him. Usually, we tend to think of Jesus as "gentle and humble of heart" (Matthew 11:28) or as "the good shepherd (John 10)." Thus it is instructive to see what would drive Jesus to act in this way.
The Jerusalem temple was filled with pilgrims wishing to make animal sacrifices at Passover. They came from all over the known world, and had coins from many different nations that would need exchanging. Each would have had to procure an animal, and have it judged for purity. It doesn't take much imagination to picture the crowds, the smells, the shouting, buying, selling, and money-changing going on.
All of this could have been done outside the temple precincts, but the religious leaders found that having these vendors inside the temple courtyard area increased their profits, since the temple authorities got a commission. Besides all this, there was quite a bit of cheating going on, as well as taking advantage of pilgrims that were simply trying to observe the requirements of the law or pray in relative quiet.
Jesus was consumed with fury when he saw how the temple, his father's house had been turned into a corrupt profit-making scheme. And in the same way, Jesus is equally zealous about the temple that is his Church. This Sunday reminds us that the Catholic Church is his temple, and especially our church, Saint Edwards – Jesus has an extraordinary interest in everything we do.
Deacon Owen Cummings gave a talk to pastoral ministers several years ago in which he stated that "everything we do at Mass, whether it be decor, music, liturgy, lecturing, Eucharistic Ministry, our attendance, our worship and the liturgy itself ought to be done as excellently as possible, because it really is the Lord's house, and the Lord takes an extraordinary interest in it. Though there is always room for improvement, this is what we strive to do at Saint Edwards.
The Lord also is zealous about the temple that is our soul. If he finds things within our hearts that should not be there, like the capital sins of pride, envy, lust, greed, sloth, anger, or covetousness, he will desire greatly to rid our lives of these things. Remembering that our eternal soul is the sanctuary of God, everything we do for him should be done excellently.