Bad Hair Days

Bad Hair Days

By Sister Mary Core, OSB

Today's Gospel story (John 2:13-25) is called The Cleansing of the Temple. But I’ve often thought it might, more aptly, be called “Jesus' Bad Hair Day.”

It is one of the very few times in the Gospel when Jesus appears to really lose his cool. He goes after people with a whip, flips over tables and shouts, "Get out of here!"

The area of the Temple Jesus was in was the Court of the Gentiles, where it was normal and accepted that sacrificial animals would be bought and money-changers would change coins for Jewish men to pay their temple tax.  

So, what was Jesus’ problem that day?

I think his sense and awareness of the sacred came face-to-face with the profane. 

The Temple was a place to honor and pray to God. Even the Outer Court should hold some sense of the sacred, for it was inside the walls of the Temple. 

Obviously, on the part of the vendors, it had lost that sense and become merely a marketplace, a center for greed and money-making.

If you encountered the same outside your Church, maybe you would be a bit undone as well. 

Upset and frustrated, you might think, “How can I pray with all this noise, smell, and general disregard for worship. This is not the place for a market, let alone for those who are more interested in making a buck than praising God. GET OUT!”    

There is another way to read it, using Temple as metaphor representing our physical life.

Jesus' message becomes: “Don’t become confused in your understanding of temples. As a child of God - a temple of the Lord - you must be aware when your pursuits become cluttered with “oxen, sheep, doves and money-changers.” 

These pursuits can lead us to be short-sighted, self-absorbed, self-centered, greedy, and unholy. We busy ourselves with distractions, half-truths, and self-absorbing, self-centered wants and sinful desires.  

It's time to cleanse our temples.

It's time to ask ourselves what “cattle and money-changers” fill our temples. What den of thieves distract us. What tables need to be overturned in our own lives ... and what needs to be told, "Get out."

Jesus' bad hair day wasn't all bad ... and neither are ours. We need to be disturbed by whatever is wrong in our lives.

Let's pray for the courage to be the temple of the Lord we are called to be.

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