Faith Daily | 18 November 2022
PRAYER of the DAY - APBA p603
whose sovereign purpose none can make void:
give us faith to be steadfast amid the tumults of this world,
knowing that your kingdom shall come
and your will be done,
to your eternal glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
GOSPEL for the Day: Luke 19: 45-48
45 Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; 46and he said, ‘It is written, “My house shall be a house of prayer”; but you have made it a den of robbers.’
47 Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; 48but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: Peter Brady
The story of the Cleansing of the Temple is recounted in all four Gospels. Today's version from Luke (as in Mark and Matthew's accounts) occurs near the end of his Gospel, just after Palm Sunday, and is the catalyst for the religious authorities deciding to kill Jesus.
It was a requirement that Jews visit the temple to make sacrifices and pay the temple tax. The former required animals 'without blemish' and it would have been difficult for anyone who lived outside of Jerusalem to bring one of their own animals to sacrifice. Being able to buy an unblemished animal at the temple itself would have been viewed as a convenience by many people. Similarly, only certain types of coins deemed acceptable by the religious authorities could be used to pay the temple tax. The money changers were providing a service to meet this need.
Jesus makes it clear he is disappointed, and angry, to find the temple being misused. But he does not criticise the sacrificial system which has ostensibly created the problem; as he says he has come not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. Instead he offers clues in referencing Isaiah 56:7 ('my house will be a house of prayer') and Jeremiah 7 ('a den of robbers') to what offends him. Jesus has earlier made it clear that prayer requires humble openness to God and abandonment of self-aggrandisement. Instead in the temple, the supposed heart of Jewish religious life, he finds the religious leaders using the authority flowing to them from the temple to impose rules on the rest of the people that they themselves ignore. If the temple was truly a house of prayer, the authorities would have understood this and changed their ways. By attacking the merchants and money changers, Jesus is attacking the sanhedrin, who are closely identified - and identify themselves - with the temple. And, because they favour self-interest and aggrandisement instead of humility before God they choose not to seek Jesus' identity but rather his execution.
Our bodies and souls are temples of the Lord. They belong to him and he wishes to meet us there. But we clutter up these temples with self-interest and greed, ignoring the needs of others and losing sight of the real value of our faith. Fortunately we are loved by God and these sins will be forgiven if we listen to him and always speak the truth in love. Faith, hope and love remain and the greatest of these is love.
FINAL PRAYER (from the Daily Services in the Prayer Book)
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you; now and for ever.