Those Money-Changers Again

This is one of the days in the year when the money-changers of the gospel (John 2. 13–25) get turned into money-lenders in popular parlance. It’s an apt malapropism in a way. We in the West have had our share of financial scandals involving outrageous rates of interest charged by pay-day lenders and the like. But the gospel isn’t about charging exorbitant rates of interest as such. The Temple money-changers played an essential cultic role, providing the special coinage which alone could be used in the Temple precincts. The sellers of pigeons and sheep provided the animals to be offered in sacrifice, again an essential service. When Jesus drove them all out of the Temple, he was doing more than making a protest at the way in which the profit-motive had invaded its sacred space. He was asserting the absolute holiness of God in the place of worship, just as the Ten Commandments assert the absolute holiness of God in the midst of everyday life (cf Exodus 20.1–17)

I wonder whether the holiness of God has become a bit problematic for us. We often compartmentalise our lives, setting boundaries to our religious activities in a way that would have seemed entirely alien to an observant Jew of Our Lord’s day. Just as today’s gospel challenges us to examine our attitudes to the Law, so it also challenges us to examine our attitudes to religion in our lives. God is not just for Sundays; nor is holiness something we can confine or control. What Hopkins said of God’s grandeur is equally true of his holiness, ‘it will flame out, like shining from shook foil’ — as the money-changers discovered to their cost.

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7 thoughts on “Those Money-Changers Again”

  1. I’m pleased you’ve blogged about today’s Gospel Sr. You see, I have a new blog, which was created as a reaction to loosing the ministry of caring for our parish website as the webmaster. A door was closed unexpectedly, and those responsible now regret what was done. They even feel they would like me to resume that ministry, in fact this is what they want. But, hurt has been inflicted, and I feel that the door to that particular ministry has closed. And closed it will remain. One of the special aspects of my parish website ministry was sharing, on the website each week, a feature for that week’s Psalm and Gospel (or Old Testament reading appointed for that week). It was special, as it was an outreach to those who did not know our Lord, but viewed our website. It was a testimony that I was able to create on behalf of the parish. One that I knew with a certainty was a blessing to others.

    Feeling a great sense of loss, I decided to ‘get back on the horse’ so to speak, and create my own website to enable me to continue the ministry I loved so much. Thus the beginning of the caldwell-haggar.net blog.

    I had intended publishing my liturgy blog at the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, but due to my older MacBook Pro developing an unfixable malfunction, I was not able to achieve that.

    I’ve now been blessed with a beautiful new one with super-fast SSD storage, I’m rather thrilled. After setting it up with my apps, I was ready to start my weekly liturgy series with the Third Sunday of Lent. However, as I’ve created my blog on wpDOTcom and not wpDOTorg, I’ve found that I don’t have the flexibility of changing the point size of type. I wanted a smaller point size for photo credits. But I’ve now achieved some manual HTML coding which is acceptable to wpDOTcom. I also wanted to get my ‘Fair Use Policy’ right in regard to copyright and a Creative Commons Licence.

    This has all now been achieved today, and I should now be in the position to start my liturgy with the Fourth Sunday of Lent. I hope that an excellent blogger like yourself, will want to take a look on Wednesday, fingers crossed.

    Thanks for taking the time and being generous enough to read my very long reply!

    Bless, as always. Michael 🙂

    • It is always very hard when we are called to give up something dear to us, especially when it is something we do well and which benefits others. Renunciation and sacrifice are, however, unavoidable if we are serious about living a Christian life and I’m sure that, whatever good you might have done with your words on the parish website, will be more than equalled by your peaceful and generous acceptance of the new situation. Anger and bitterness of any kind is a great hindrance to spiritual growth. Of course I wish you well with your blog and will pray that you receive all the graces you need for your new venture.

  2. Sister, I have always understood that a key element in Our Lord’s driving these people from the Temple was because they were taking up most of the room specifically in the Court of the Gentiles. In doing so they were preventing Gentile God-fearers & actual believers from accessing the only place within the Temple’s “ritual space” where they were permitted to pray. Hence Our Lord’s comment about it being “a house of prayer for all nations”.

    • Yes, I agree. I think Ray Brown identified no fewer than five key elements in this passage, but I only allowed myself two short paragraphs to get one point across so hope I’ve chosen the most important one.

  3. I’m a bit late with this reply Sister; whenever I hear the story of Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple I wonder what His reaction would be if He were to appear in the flesh at the end of Sunday Mass in my parish when, as soon as the last note of the recessional hymn is over, the people begin immediately to chatter loudly, full of their own interests, and each other. Jesus is still present within those who received Holy Communion only a few minutes earlier and yet He seems to be forgotten. I would like to linger in quiet prayer or contemplation but the noise is enough to drive me out of the church. The same parishoners have a long-time tradition of singing Happy Birthday when one of them has an imminent birthday; this used to be sung after the recessional hymn, but our new priest is not only encouraging this, he is inviting us all to sing it before the final blessing. It actually happened this very day after we had heard John2. 13 – 25 It makes me very sad indeed.
    Prayers for you and Bro. Duncan.
    Annie.

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