Dedication of the Lateran Basilica

Q501: Jesus loses his “cool” in today’s Gospel (John 2:13-22). Don’t you think he got a little carried away, chasing away the merchants, bankers and livestock?

Perhaps a modern day example might help. Suppose you were deep into meditation and worship during a Sunday Eucharistic celebration at your parish. All of a sudden, a couple of men from the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus go up and down the aisles, selling tickets to their upcoming spaghetti dinner, while two other guys make change to help folks buy raffle tickets for a new shotgun to be given away that same day. Now, if Pope Benedict XVI were to walk into the church at that time, how do you think he would react? Do you think he might lose his “cool,” or would he just ignore them? (I won’t ask how your own pastor might react…)

That scenario isn’t too far off target regarding today’s gospel! The Jews had been called to be a “light to the nations,” with a mission of attracting pagans to believe in the One and only God of the Universe. God had spoken through the Prophet Isaiah, saying that “my house shall be called to be a house of prayer for All the nations”; however, the Jewish laws had insulated Israel and its Temple from being open to all worshipers.

Not only that, the Jewish leadership (Temple and Scribal) had permitted the temple grounds to become “secularized” with a merchandising prominence. That was directly opposed to keeping the temple grounds as “holy space,” a place for undisturbed worship. This “cleansing” or purifying of the temple by Jesus had been prophesied by two other prophets, Malachi and Ezekiel as an end-time judgment of abuses.

Before we nod our heads knowingly about those “other” folks, let’s take a look within our own hearts. How do we use the worship space provided for us by our Catholic community? Does our manner of dress and our external behavior reflect our interior spirituality?

KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! Like the Temple in purpose, our physical church is designed to be a privileged place of encounter with God, a house of prayer, not a place of commerce (CCC # 584). Jesus expressed the deepest respect for this special “place” of encounter with God; what is your attitude and behavior in your own house of prayer? (CCC #583)

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