Holy Week is the week between Jesus entry into Jerusalem and Jesus Cruxificion/Resurrection. A lot happens during that week, including a couple of nights that Jesus dismisses him self from the crowds for a much needed rest at the home of his dear friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. The events of that Holy Exhausting/Devastating/ Exalting/Surprising/Rejecting/Hateful/LoveFull/Tears/Misery/…. week are observed with tradition and consistency in our Catholic and many liturgical protestant brothers and sisters, however, most protestants do not partake in the full schedule of the week (although there are some that are attempting to adopt at least some of these events). Just to give you an idea of the power of the Holy Week for many faith traditions, here is a partial list of these activities (if you want details or explanations just go on the internet and type in any one of these events):
- Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday)
- Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday.
- Holy Wednesday (Spy Wednesday)
- Maundy Thursday.
- Good Friday.
- Holy Saturday (Black Saturday)
The reason I point this out here is that our gospel reading today and through March 21 are going to seem to be chronologically out of place – we will be making this detour, however, from our Mark readings in order to help us have an understanding the catalyst and insight of Holy Week (not and explanation of human observances but reflections from Jesus that can explain the foundational reasons).
One think to have on your mind as you read today’s passage:
When the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem they also destroyed the temple. So, the Israelites came home to no temple, and no Ark of the Covenant. They quickly set out on a journey to rebuild the temple, a journey that lasted decades and ultimately involved some very unsavory characters – but they could not rebuild a new Ark or duplicate its contents. The Ark was the Presence of God. No Ark, No Presence, No God.
We understand that the presence of God is not held in a building but this was a new concept at this time. Yet, Jesus, says, ‘Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!’ God did not live in a building, so what was Jesus saying?
Context note, the merchants consisted of two different primary groups. The first was those selling the needed animals for the sacrifices to those who had traveled a long distance and had arrived at the temple without their sacrificial items. The second group were the money changers – they were changing the believers money into the exact amounts they needed for the purchases and for the temple tax, while withholding a nice percentage for themself.
The Temple Tax was a painful reminder to Jesus that the church and oppressive government were in an unholy unity. The government cozied up to the church by instituting a Temple Tax that paid the rabbis and priests. The Church, in turn, willingly accepted the oppressive politicians giving them an unholy influence – the politicians then received the assistance from the religious officials to help keep the people under control.
Now, as you read consider why Jesus would have found this abusive collusion abhorrent, and think about Jesus statement ‘My Father’s House’.