33RD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
. . . a house of prayer, . . . a den of thieves.
You’ve probably seen or heard about ticket scalpers. These are the people who stake out a spot near a sports stadium before a big game and hawk overpriced tickets to latecomers. It’s an age-old way to make a buck. People with easy access to something charge a high price to those without such access.
During Jesus’ time, the Temple in Jerusalem had its own version of this kind of “upselling.” During high holy days, when Jews came to buy sacrificial animals to offer inside the sanctuary, money exchangers located just outside charged exorbitant rates to switch secular currency for Jewish or Tyrian money. These scalpers’ profits often went to the priests, which only created more cycles of corruption.
It’s no wonder that Jesus showed his Father’s displeasure! The Temple was supposed to be a place of sanctification, a portal to heaven, and a space of communion between God and his people. Instead, it had become a “den of thieves” (Luke 19:46).
But making dishonest profits off of well-meaning pilgrims wasn’t their only offense. On a more fundamental level, these money changers and the priests who conspired with them were hindering people from free and unobstructed access to God’s holy place. Jesus had come to earth and was preparing to suffer and die for the very purpose of destroying every obstacle that prevented people from entering God’s presence. Yet here were his Father’s own representatives establishing even more obstacles!
In that sense, Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple was prophetic. It foreshadowed what he would soon accomplish on the cross: giving every one of us free access to his Father’s healing love and mercy. Now it no longer matters who you are or how much you can give him. All he wants is for you to approach him so that he can greet you with a loving embrace.
So don’t let anything stand in the way between you and God. He has become the new Temple, and the only sacrifice he is looking for is a contrite and humble heart. Nothing else is required!
“Lord, thank you for always welcoming me into your presence.”
1 Maccabees 4:36-37, 52-59
1 Chronicles 29:10-12