WHEN JESUS ENTERED THE TEMPLE on His return to Jerusalem, the Monday after Palm Sunday, He found the Temple courtyard overrun with merchants who trafficked in accessories to worship and sacrifice. Their presence near the Temple was justified to some extent by the peculiar requirements of Jewish customs: money-offerings had to be made in local coins, and the Temple money-changers were thus a convenience for foreign Jews who had come to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple. Similarly, sellers of sheep, oxen, and turtledoves accommodated Temple worshipers who found it impractical to procure sacrificial victims elsewhere. On the great feasts the high priest permitted these merchants to set up their tables and booths in the Temple courtyard, where their noisy bickering, hawking, and clinking of coins produced all the din and confusion of a crowded market. To add to this profanation, many citizens had taken to using the Temple as a shortcut in their journeys across the city; various merchants and tradesmen hastily crossed the court as they went about their business.
Once before, early in His public ministry, Jesus had come upon this scene of avarice in the Temple. Then He had taken a whip of cords and driven out these mongers of religious goods who had made the house of His Father a place of business. Now, incensed by this continued profanation, He strode through the crowded courtyard and galleries, overturning the merchants’ tables and benches, spilling their precious stacks of coins, losing their furred and feathered merchandise. Moreover, He turned back those thoughtless trespassers who came carrying their tools and merchandise through the Temple as if it were a thoroughfare.
Then, while the court resounded with the angry complaints of the merchants, the cries of the birds, and the lowing of cattle, Jesus quietly began to teach, saying:
“Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of thieves.”
Meditation: The soul of every Christian in the state of grace is a house of God, a temple in which the Holy Ghost dwells. This temple is to be adorned with virtue. A lien to it and a defilement of its holiness is all deliberate sin, mortal or venial. Is my zeal to preserve the holiness of this temple within me like the zeal of Christ to keep holy the Temple of His Father?
Information from The Life of Christ “Our Lord’s Life with Lesson in His Own Words for Our Life Today” The Catholic Press, Inc. 1959. 197-198. © 1954 edited by Reverend John P. O’Connell, MASTD and Jex Martin, following mainly A Chronological Harmony of the Gospels by Stephen J Hartdegen OFM NIHIL OBSTAT John A McMahon; IMPRIMATUR Samuel Cardinal Stritch, Archbishop of Chicago August 1, 1953. Print. Drawing by Albert H Winkler.