Psalms 34; 146, Deuteronomy 9:(1-3) 4-12, Hebrews 3:1-11, John 2:13-22
All four gospels include the story of Jesus cleansing the temple of money-changers and merchants. That coin with Caesar’s likeness that Jesus was willing to render unto him? It wasn’t welcome in the temple. The money-changers charged exorbitant exchange rates to trade the currency of the empire for the currency of the temple. The merchants sold sacrificial livestock to travelers and charged typically inflated tourist prices. Jesus was furious God’s house of worship had been turned into a center of exploitative commerce, so he drove out the animals and flipped the tables.
Only John’s gospel tells the part of the story about Jesus fashioning a whip from cords. Doing so would have taken some time, enough for people to notice what he was doing. With all the livestock nearby there were probably whips handy, yet he took the time to make one himself. As he knotted the cords in the crowded temple, somebody – probably several somebodies – must have noticed. Did they brush it off as business as usual? Did they take moment to wonder why it was happening? Did they think he couldn’t possibly be about to do what it seemed he would? Maybe there were even a few people thinking, “It’s about time.”
How many injustices being perpetrated right now, right in front of us, right in the hearts of our communities, do we ignore because business is booming? While we buy and sell, while we mingle our economy and empire with our faith, what retribution builds? While we fail or refuse to see the impending repercussions, the knots multiply. And our daily lives – our casual attitudes towards “that’s just how business works” or “you can’t expect me to risk my security over someone else’s injustice” – can’t be untangled from living our faith.
People might have left the temple peacefully had they stopped for a minute to ask if the man in the corner was the face of justice delayed. Let’s take some time this Lenten season to step back and look at how our own business as usual exploits our neighbors. The consequences of injustice are inevitable, but injustice itself is not. Perhaps Jesus doesn’t want to finish that whip any more than we want him to, and that’s why he gives us time to turn the tables before he turns them over.
Comfort: It’s not too late to do better.
Challenge: Pick one consumable item (coffee, chocolate, etc) and for the remainder of Lent buy it only from direct trade or fair trade sources.
Prayer: Open my eyes, Lord, to where I have been blind to injustice. Amen.
Discussion: What is the difference between feeling guilty and feeling accountable?
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