23 November. Friday of Week Thirty Three
Rev 10:8ff. The scroll, sweet to the palate but sour in the stomach.
Lk 19:45ff. Jesus cleanses the temple of traders and merchants.
Purifying Our Inner Temple
Jesus cleanses the sanctuary by driving out the traders from the temple courts. We might note the ways in which our lives and our church can become more truly a house of prayer, a temple according to God’s holy purpose.
The interaction between world and temple is most clearly seen towards the end of Revelation when John sees “a new heaven and new earth.. a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, beautiful as a bride” (Rev 21:1-2). The transformation of the universe will mean that heaven and earth will merge, and in the midst of the new Jerusalem God will be enthroned. This vision helps us to understand better the stern action of Jesus in the gospel.
Jesus grieved over Jerusalem for failing to recognize its time of grace. Today he enters the temple and begins ejecting the merchants and traders. His objection is not to the practice of sacrifice but to the abuse of religion for financial gain, in that the merchants, regrettably the religious leaders, were more concerned about their financial interests than the worship of God.
To purify the temple means to let God be supreme in our lives. That means that our business and financial dealings as well as our politics must be moderated by God’s law of justice and compassion. When there is conflict in our lives, remember that we basically want to follow Jesus and be among those who were “hanging upon his words.” It is good to remember when his words were “sweet to our palate,” and we enthusiastically embraced them. As we renew our commitment, God can say of us, “My house is a house of prayer.”
First Reading: Revelation 10:8-11
Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, “Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, “Take it, and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.” So I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.
Then they said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”
Gospel: Luke 19:45-48
Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.”
Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.