Cleansing the Temple

Do you know why the commerce in the temple was so bad? Not because you shouldn’t sell stuff in church. It’s because the Jews had to make sacrifice in the temple in Jerusalem. It couldn’t happen anywhere else. Furthermore, they had to sacrifice animals that were perfect. So here is what happened:

Good Jewish man comes to temple gates to sacrifice the little lamb he thought was perfectly acceptable. The temple guard checks it out..whoops it has a defect. He has to buy one of the approved ones which they have already inspected in the temple courtyard.

So your Jewish worshipper goes to buy his sacrificial lamb, but he’s not allowed to use the Roman currency because it has an image of the emperor on it which is a graven image and that would be blasphemous to bring into the temple, so he has to change the Roman money to Jewish shekels, which can only be done–you guessed it–at the official money changer table.

So he goes to change his money to buy his lamb to make his sacrifice and finds out that, too bad, the exchange rate is not so good and also the money change makes a commission on each transaction.

No wonder Jesus was hopping mad. They were making a killing out of the poor Jewish faithful who, by their own religious rules, had to make a sacrifice in that place in that way approved by those people who were all getting rich on it.

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18350837779080807822 Novus Catholicus Romanus

    Ah, the social justice issue… I heard liberals blurt out time and again ad nauseam that social justice was all that there was to the mission of the Lord Jesus…But what about looking at this in another way? The sellers of sacrificial animals, the money changers were there at the gates of the temple and not elsewhere because of this very important reason: convenience! Convenience for the people as well as for the temple authorities. The people instead of bringing their animals from afar, which through the vicissitudes of the journey might become lamed or blinded, wounded, scarred, or afflicted with disease, would most naturally opt for the temple inspected, quality-control-passed sacrificial animal. And note that the temple authorities were not necessarily vile and evil minded when they put this at the gates. The Law of Moses required that they should offer an animal with no blemish (Lev 3:6). As for the money changers, it was really practicing out what they understood the Law required them regarding idolatry — not only that the image of the Roman emperor was on the coin but it was an acknowledgement of the sovereignty of an earthly pagan ruler that infringes on the supreme majesty and sovereignty of the God of Israel… So the animal sellers and the money changers were there for a reason: to OBEY THE LAW. But they obeyed the Law, adjusted to their convenience, and to the detriment of the sacredness of the house of the God of Israel.But the Lord Jesus would have not of it… And wisely did He drive out the sellers and the money changers. "My house shall be called a house of prayer." In other words, the Lord Jesus teaches us an important lesson: God is not the one to adjust to your convenience. Instead, you, the creature, must be the one to adjust to Him. It is the same nowadays with "modern" spirituality and liturgy… In the name of "relevance" (which is just another tag for "convenience"), people adjust the what is asked of them to suit their taste. Thus you have liturgical "creativities", the endless tinkering by liturgical hobbyists… And akin to this, is the same-sex lobby, the contraceptionists, the abortionists, and all those who want to make the commandments and the teachings of the Church RELEVANT (=convenient to my taste).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11218974916477894298 Sue

    Here is a more recent example:Pope Pius XI sells the Papal States for the equivalent of $92.1 million in 1929. Six days later, Our Lady of the Rosary returns to officially request the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in union with all the Bishops of the world.Now the enemies of the Church have that extra incentive to infiltrate and dominate, avarice! The consecration of Russia is not accomplished until 1952 and the Bishops do not participate. A "certain" period of peace is granted to the world.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09913499157858865993 Brian Jones

    I think that's why my non-Christian friends really connect with Jesus (until they read the stories about his personal demands on the individual).For me it's easy to rail against the manipulators in the church. Much harder to rail against my own manipulation and hypocrisy. :) Great post.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18309768251605378704 John Secular Franciscan

    Father, I have had the same thoughts, I imagined a poor man so desperate to recieve forgiveness of his sins thru the ritual only to be denied this because of lack of money.The poor left with the impression that God does not love them because they cannot find a way to have thier sins removed this year.What a desperate feeling.


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