Lenten Daily Gospel Reflection - Palm Sunday - 24 March 2013
Then Jesus went into the temple and threw out all those who were selling and buying there. He pushed over the tables used for currency exchange and the chairs of those who sold doves. He said to them, “It’s written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you’ve made it a hideout for crooks.”
People who were blind and lame came to Jesus in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and legal experts saw the amazing things he was doing and the children shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were angry. They said to Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?”
“Yes,” he answered. “Haven’t you ever read, From the mouths of babies and infants you’ve arranged praise for yourself?” Then he left them and went out of the city to Bethany and spent the night there.
This time the daily Gospel reading and the Sunday reading are pretty close. They both contain the people shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” This, of course, is Palm Sunday. The day Jesus rides into Jerusalem on the colt, sometimes referred to as the “Triumphal Entry.”
Have you ever wondered about that title? Why is it called Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem? What happens doesn’t look very triumphant. As usual, Jesus draws a line in the sand. Once more he challenges the Religious Establishment. By his actions, he causes the whole cultic system to be shut down for a time. And, because of that, and because of Jesus himself, division arises. So how is this triumphant?
One of the things that a would be king was supposed to do was cleanse or rebuild the Temple. We see such actions in the kingdom movements on either side of Jesus’ life, the one most familiar to us is that of Herod. Herod was hailed as the King of the Jews and took it upon himself to rebuild the Temple because that’s what Israel’s kings did (think about Solomon or the story of the Maccabees). Jesus’ action of cleansing the temple establishes the same thing - he is the true King of the Jews and the whole world.
However, while his followers are looking for Jesus to give it to the Romans, Jesus, instead, throws down the gauntlet in G_d’s house. This is a dramatic image. Rather than ridding the Temple of the Roman occupation, Jesus’ actions pointed to a deeper issue - the people through whom the world would be rescued needed rescue themselves. They had become so tainted that they failed to see that the whole system was temporary; that it pointed beyond itself to the time when G_d would be king once more.
The Temple was the place where heaven and earth met together. It was the ultimate thin place. The place where G_d’s Realm and this world’s realm overlapped and interlocked in a mystical way.
But, the place had become corrupt. The leaders had allowed greed and lust to pollute it. So much so that it became a “hideout for crooks.” There was no reverence. There was no respect. Even the hardest of hearts was comfortable there. The gateway between our world’s realm and G_d’s Realm was broken.
So, not only is Jesus acting like a king - the rightful king - in his cleansing of the Temple, he is portraying the destruction of the Temple and city, and the establishment of a new Temple - himself (as John points out in his telling of this story). He will be the place where G_d’s Realm and our world’s realm overlap and interlock.
And leave it to the children to recognize what G_d is doing. All throughout his ministry, Jesus stated that children have an innate ability to see and comprehend, to hear and understand, what G_d was doing in the life and work of Jesus. Therefore it’s of no surprise that the children sing the song of Israel’s king coming home.
All of the other actions and stories of Jesus were leading to this point - pointing beyond themselves to the moment that G_d, through Jesus, becomes king of the whole world. But the revolt would not be against the Romans. The revolt would be among his own people. The establishment would once more be at ends with what Jesus is doing. And, while the children are shouting his praises, there is a feeling of the oncoming storm. In all of the stories, the way into Jerusalem is shadowed by the throne of Christ - the cross.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC