Third Sunday of Lent
Aristotle said "It is easy to become angry, anyone can do it. But to become angry at the right moment, to the right degree, for the right purpose, in the right manner, that is difficult. Only the wise person can accomplish it."
In today's gospel we hear about Jesus getting angry. This is the only time we know of that Jesus gets annoyed and it occurs in the temple in Jerusalem. This temple was the centre of Jewish religious life and Jews went there to pray. Indeed to this Day in the holy city the Jews pray in their thousands at the Western Wall - the remnants of this huge structure. Passover was a special day in the Jewish calendar - a National Feast- a bit like St Patrick's Day. Each year at Passover, the population of Jerusalem jumped threefold from 50,000 to 180,000. Nearly 20,000 lambs would be slaughtered in the Temple as part of the festival. Many poor people, especially those who travelled a distance, were being forced to pay exorbitant prices for the animals so that they could offer sacrifice to God. Jesus gets angry because the traders and merchants were making a fortune off the poor in the name of God. Annoyed with injustice, he drives the trades people and animals out of the temple. This gospel shows a very human side to Jesus.
Firstly we can see this story as a reminder that the house of God is a place of worship to praise and honour God. We all need to be mindful when in the church that we are in a sacred place reserved for prayer and reflection.
Secondly, we live in a world that revolves around money. Sometimes just like the money-changers at their desks in the gospel we can get our priorities wrong and put money at the centre of our lives. With money as a false god greed and self interest take over. That's why Moses in delivering the ten commandments and Jesus many times in the gospels speaks of how important it is for people to put God first at all times.
A third interpretation is one that challenges our image of Jesus. Some people portray Jesus as a kind, gentle man who would not say ‘boo' to a fly. But if Jesus was like this he would never have been crucified, because he would never have offended or challenged anyone. Perhaps one reason why God's presence does not have an obviously stronger presence in our world is because of the failure of so many Christians to confront those who stand in the way of the kingdom and block its growth. What we need is a little more of Jesus' courage.