Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Christ Cleanses the Temple: Respect for God's House

Yesterday's Gospel reading at the Traditional Mass was the story of Jesus running the money changers and sellers of sacrificial animals out of the Jerusalem Temple, from Matthew 21:10-17:
At that time, when Jesus entered Jerusalem, all the city was thrown into commotion, saying, Who is this? But the crowds kept on saying, This is Jesus the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus entered the temple of God, and cast out all those who were selling and buying in the temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold the doves. And He said to them, It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of thieves. And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But the chief priests and the Scribes, seeing the wonderful deeds that He did, and the children crying out in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David, were indignant, and said to Him, Do You hear what these are saying? And Jesus said to them, Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and sucklings You have perfected praise’? And leaving them, He went out of the city to Bethany and He stayed there.
The standard exegesis of this passage is the righteous anger of our Lord at the desecration of the Father's house, coupled with one of the many examples of the "chief priests and the Scribes" getting upset with him.  But an additional view is provided by the Readings from Matins for the same day, from a sermon by the Venerable Bede, Priest (emphasis added):
If, therefore, the Lord would not have to be sold in the temple, even such things as He willed should be offered therein, (On account, that is, of the greed or dishonesty which is often the stain of such transactions,) with what anger, suppose ye, would He visit such as He might find laughing or gossiping there, or yielding to any other sin? If the Lord suffer not to be carried on in His house such worldly business as may be freely done elsewhere, how much more shall such things as ought never to be done anywhere, draw down the anger of God if they be done in His own holy house?
 How much more, indeed!  It never before occurred to me, I am sorry to admit, that the way we behave at church should be measured by the criteria Jesus applied to the money-changers and merchants in the Temple, but now it seems obvious.  This should be a sobering thought for all the faithful, calling for an examination of conscience concerning all aspects of our actions before and after Mass, as well as how we dress for the occasion.  We are there for prayer, worship and, if properly disposed, receiving the Blessed Sacrament, not to attend a social club or be entertained.

Laudator Jesus Christus!

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