We should picture Jesus driving out those animals.

Friday, 5/27/16

St. Peer wrote, “Do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ.”

Often we hear people selling religious conversions as a way of avoiding life’s troubles, but Peter says that is wrong. Our sufferings are a necessary part of our becoming like Jesus.

To understand the Gospel’s account of cleansing the temple, we must picture the temple compound as it was then. The inner part, with the Holy of Holies, surrounded by the courtyard of the priests, was hidden inside high walls. It, in turn was surrounded by the Courtyard of Israel
With the altar that was just a large barbecue pit.

(The only surviving part of the temple where Jesus worshipped is a gateway in the wall surrounding that Courtyard od Israel. It bears a sign warning any non-Jew with instant death if he enters the Courtyard of Israel.)

All; of that was the sacred part of the temple. It was surrounded on three sides by the Courtyard of the Gentiles. It was there that the rulers of the temple ran a lucrative business, selling animals for sacrifices. They customarily judged as unfit any bird or ox or lamb people brought for sacrifice, selling them what they deemed fit. The temple also rejected Roman coins for offerings, and they exchanged fit Temple coins for them at a profit.

When I did this story with my Seventh Grade class each year, I made great show of improvising a whip, and lashing imaginary herds out the temple gates. I ended the show each year by upturning my desk with a great Heave  Ho! That sent my books, pencils and notebooks flying.

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