8th Week in Ordinary Time
My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. (Mark 11:17)
We sometimes read this incident as Jesus’ lashing out at greed and commercialism. This line of thinking may prompt us to make minor adjustments in our lives or spending habits. But really, this would be equivalent to these money changers merely lowering their prices or setting up shop just outside the Temple courts.
However, Jesus’ action is more symbolic and more sweeping. The people who were buying and selling in the Temple may not have been doing anything wrong—especially since the commodities sold there were directly related to the Temple worship. No, the problem wasn’t what they were doing as much as what they weren’t doing. They failed to recognize Jesus as God’s Messiah, the Holy One who had come to make their worship space sacred in a whole new way.
Jesus’ dramatic action certainly intrigued the common people, who came to see what he had to say. It also aroused the anger of those religious leaders who were bent on preserving the status quo and their own position. It drew the attention of both groups to Jesus himself, the answer to their deepest longings.
In the same way, we can become focused on relatively external things in our church—our statues or our sound system, perhaps—and miss what makes each church God’s dwelling place: Jesus present in the Eucharist. We debate over where the tabernacle should be placed and how it should be adorned, but we risk forgetting how we should place ourselves in the presence of the Lord who has chosen to dwell among us.
Next time you walk through the doors of your church, make a conscious effort to recognize Jesus. Once you focus on him both in the tabernacle and in the Eucharistic sacrifice, you will find it easier to enter into heartfelt prayer with all his people. You’ll hear him in the music, however good or bad you think it is. You’ll see him in the stained glass windows. And you’ll touch him in the people around you.
Jesus is waiting for you at every Mass. Come and bow down to him.
“Jesus, you are the way to the Father. Let me enter more fully into your presence.”
Sirach 44:1, 9-13; Psalm 149:1-6, 9