Turning Over The Tables

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
Matthew 21:12-13

When you arrive at an airport in a foreign country, one of the first things you'll see are booths where you can change your dollars into whatever currency is used in that country--for a fee, of course.  

Similarly, in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, if you wanted to offer a sacrifice at the Temple, you had to have the right coin to pay the "temple tax."  

As you entered what was known as the Court of the Gentiles in the Temple, there were money changers, set up to change your money into a Tyrolean shekel--the only currency you could use to pay your fare.  There was a fee involved, of course. 

Alongside these money-changers were people who sold over-priced pigeons, which was the only kind of sacrifice that most poor people could afford.  

I wonder what it was like when Jesus burst into the courtyard of the Temple in Jerusalem, turning over the tables of money-changers, and kicking over the chairs of the pigeon-sellers.  What a scene! 

There would have been pigeons flying, people scrambling to grab money, screams, curses, and probably some laughter, too from the poor people standing in line to be exploited.  

It's like Jesus was saying, "This is what happens when you commercialize and commodify religion.  When you forget the very people who you have been called to serve--people I came to rescue."  

The German theologian and mystic Meister Eckhart wrote about how our own hearts are a temple--a temple that often becomes filled with things that keep us from living into our true calling.  He writes: 
When [Jesus] enters the temple, he drives out ignorance and darkness and reveals himself in light and truth.  Then, when the truth is known, merchants must depart--for truth wants no merchandising!
And then when Jesus has chased the money-changers in the temple of your soul away, he stands in the center of it and proclaims that it had belonged to him all along.  Every part of it, even the parts you had forgotten.  

Meister Eckart goes on to say it is then that we will know who we really are, and who we are to God.  Then we will see more clearly our calling to love one another, and realize that: 
Neither joy nor sorrow, no, nor any created thing will be able to disrupt your soul.  For Christ will remain and he will cast aside all that is insignificant and futile. 
May you welcome Jesus into your own temple and find delight in his overturning the tables and the chairs as you are made ready to be his true follower.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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