If you have ever entertained the thought that you can hide your deeds from the Lord, as you do from your fellow men, you are sorely mistaken!
How easy it must have been for the merchants in the temple area to fall into the practice of making money off of sincere worshipers coming to the temple. After all, the people needed these things to make their worship acceptable to God, did they not? Why not be the ones to provide the means to fulfill the mandates of sacrificial law. And, so what if they make a profit from it? Why indeed! Why shouldn’t you, then, be the one to profit from providing what people want, or think they need. Someone will anyway, so why not you!
The “money changers” in the temple felt justified to profit from what people needed to have to fulfill their temple worship obligations. Do you, at times, do the same? Let’s change the picture of the “money changers” to those in our modern-day, who profit from the needs of others: physical, emotional, spiritual.
Look to your heart to see if in some small (or perhaps significant) way you profit from another person’s gift, talents, or needs; another’s friendship or love; another’s fear or loneliness; another’s willingness to give of himself. Or look to the pride you might have because someone looks up to you, and you relish being of influence. Is it for the good of their soul, and yours, or because you crave power? Once you start down that slippery slope of false reasoning, the gray that governs your actions becomes a blind spot. You sometimes can no longer see that what you do is harmful. You can find so many justifications! Such was the case of the “money changers” in today’s Gospel. To them, it was justified. They couldn’t see how far hey had sunk into the sin of corruption.
Ask yourself if the alluring power of sin has clouded your judgment so that you can no longer tell where you stepped off the path of righteousness. We can probably reason that the money changers started in good faith, but then it got out of hand, turning a “service” to the people into corruption, and sacrilegious use of sacred ground. Don’t let this happen to you.
Ezekiel gives us today, also, one of my favorite “pictures” into the heart of God. Grace in the form of water spilling from all sides of the temple, making the seawater fresh and the ground fertile. Life will be abundant; fruit trees will grow bearing fruit; their leaves shall not fade or their fruit fall. The fruit shall serve as food and their leaves as medicine.
You should be that temple! If you aren’t yet, then stand in the water flowing from the side of Christ to bless and nourish you. Let Christ gently turn the money changer in you out of your heart and return that space to hallowed ground –sacred space for him to dwell in communion with you. And he doesn’t have to wait outside the door until you have perfectly dusted the spaces. He’ll come in now and help you with the chore.
Jeanne Penoyar, an Accounts Manager at Diocesan, is a Lector at St. Anthony of Padua parish in Grand Rapids, MI. Jeanne has worked in parish ministry as an RCIA director, in Liturgy, and as a Cantor. Working word puzzles and reading fill her spare time. Jeanne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.