Holy week


Monday Reflection


29th March 2021

...a den of thieves...

And said unto them, It is written,
My house shall be called the house of prayer;
but ye have made it a den of thieves.

....Matthew 21:13

As we join Jesus through Holy Week,
in his walk to the cross and beyond
we see just what an action-packed week it was.

Today the mood changes.
Jesus goes from Jerusalem to the
quiet seclusion of a family home -
to his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
Here he is safe -
away from the crowds and danger.
But he must move on.

Having spent Sunday night at Bethany,
Monday morning he leaves Bethany,
the village at the foot of Mount Olives
(Matthew 21:7)
to return to the temple in Jerusalem.

As Jesus journeyed,
he noticed a fig tree that had produced
leaves ahead of the season.
Jesus knew that fig trees bear fruit twice a year --
in June and September.
This was April,
so even the unripened fruit should have
still remained for Him to eat.

But since the fig tree bore leaves,
He expected to find figs, yet it was fruitless.
Jesus cursed the tree and it withered the next day;
then he weeps over Jerusalem.

These two events are linked to the cleansing of the temple.
They remind us powerfully of the importance of
institutions and individuals
living up to their calling.
Each of us is called to be who God calls us to be.

The fig tree's vocation was straightforward; to produce figs.

The question for us is - what is our vocation?
How do we produce fruit?
We also have our present realities
of the situation we find ourselves in
with the present lockdown and the
difference from our usual normal journey
through Holy Week.

But however strange it feels we are not
isolated from each other.
We can share in the prayers and presence
of the worldwide Church
and God's people here on earth.
We are connected with Christians of the past,
present and future in travelling
through the cross and
journeying to the glories of Easter Day.

When Jesus entered the Temple,
there were various courts that different
sorts of people could come to.
The outer court was for non-Jews
who wanted to worship the true God of Israel
even though they were not a part of
the Chosen People.

At the time of Jesus,
there were many such people,
often called "God fearers."
When they arrived in the Temple,
they should have seen a place of prayer,
repentance and joy before the Almighty God.

However, the actual scene was very different.
The thirty-minute journey from Bethany to
Jerusalem provided Jesus the time to reflect
on how the city had changed.

In the past two years,
some had forgotten whose house the Temple was.
Commercialism and greed had altered
the character of the Temple, with the selling of
animals for sacrifice and changing of currency,
probably at exorbitant rates.

Rather than bring animals all the way from
distant homes, and then risk rejection
because of some blemish,
people would buy the animals in Jerusalem.

Because the animals were meant for a sacred purpose,
the purchase had to be in the
sacred coin of the Jews,
not in the pagan Roman currency.
Now there was nothing wrong with
the sale of animals and the changing of money.

However, to get part of the profits,
the Temple authorities had authorized
these animal purchases and money changing
right in the Temple, and,
due to the monopoly power,
they were likely charging excessive prices.

Can you imagine the scene - Jesus,
in his righteous anger, whip in hand,
overturning the tables of the money changers,
opening the pens of the animal and doves,
setting them free,
driving out the merchants
from the courtyard - chaos.

The event was historic in itself and
increased the opposition to Jesus
by the rich and powerful.
But it also illustrates the cleansing power of
Jesus and His Church,
who seeks to cleanse the heart of each person
and each society from the greed and vice
that mars relationship with God.

Having heard the commotion,
the courtyard was in chaos.
Yet those who had needs did not hesitate,
nor did the children.
First, the blind and lame came when
they heard Jesus was in the Temple.

As the children saw Jesus standing there
and teaching, they began to shout again,
"Hosanna, Hosanna, to the Son of David."
There was nothing the Pharisees could do
to stop Jesus as the Messiah. "
[Jesus replied]

'Have you never read,
 From the lips of children and infants
 you have ordained praise'?"

....(Matthew 21:14-16).

Late in day,
Jesus left the city to spend
another night at Bethany.

I think that the saddest part of the story
is the fact that the Pharisees
were so intrenched in their rules and laws
dotting the liturgical "i's"
and crossing the ceremonial "t's"
that they missed the focal point -
here was their long-awaited Messiah,
in their midst,
but they could not, would not,
recognise him.

But what about us?
Have you accepted Jesus into your life?
If so, are you still searching to know him better -
to recognise and further his actions
in the world today,
whenever and wherever they break in,
even when they are disturbing
and uncomfortable?

It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
'I need thee every hour'
sung by Salt of the Sound
via the link shown below.