This Sunday the Gospel reading tells us about Jesus driving the money lenders and others out of the Temple. Did you find this gospel rather challenging? I did. I am sure most of us have an image of Jesus as a gentle, caring, loving man. But what do we see here? We see another side of Jesus’ character. Of course he was gentle, but that doesn’t mean he was weak. We can see that when the need arose and the occasion demanded it Jesus could be strong and assertive.
It comes as a shock to see Jesus with a whip made of cord driving out the money changers but there is a reason for his actions. The temple wasn’t like a church building where people just went to pray. The temple meant everything to the Jewish people; it was not only the focus of religious ritual and prayer but also the home to the Holy Scriptures and the meeting place of the highest court of Jewish law.
So why then was Jesus so angry? Why did he threaten to knock down the temple and rebuild it in three days? Jesus’ anger is because he sees the injustice of how Jewish worship had become narrow and exploitative. For example, lambs were the usual sacrifice offered, but for those who couldn’t afford a lamb the law allowed doves or pigeons to be used instead. The pigeon sellers often exploited and mistreated the poor. This was no longer a place of worship, of praise, prayer and ritual sacrifice. Now it had become a place of economic exploitation going against the Jewish Law.
We likewise are upset and angry when we see exploitation and suffering. Care for the poor and needy has a particular resonance in Lent in terms of Almsgiving. This year our Lenten activities are scaled back due to the Covid restrictions and it becomes more difficult to collectively support the Ealing Abbey Lenten Appeal. We are supporting “The Felix Project” which is based in London, the charity collects and distributes quality surplus food to vulnerable children and adults. A designated Lent Appeal Felix Project donation button will be available shortly on the parish website and any fundraising ideas from parishioners will be very welcome! Please do take a look at the website for more details.