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Active Resistance & Organization: Clearing out the Temple
Matthew 21:10-17 | Mark 11:15-18 | Luke 19:45-48
After the arrival at Jerusalem to acclaim and expectation, Jesus returns to the Temple edifice, the central institution for religion, economics, political power and social structure in the Roman-occupied territory of Judea. He comes and turns things upside down, literally, seeking to refocus, reform and rehabilitate this vital center of exchange from one based on commodities to one focused on community. We can easily overlook the active resistance in this action, a protest movement, call to action in a powder-key situation. This might be the picture we have of Jesus as his wildest, most politically passionate and deliberate intervention in the warped social structure that their community had become in the global Roman Empire.
Mary represents the ‘rebel consciousness’ that is essential to Jesus’ gospel. Wherever the gospel is preached, we must remember that its good news will make you crazy. Jesus will put you at odds with the economic and political systems of our world. This gospel will force you to act, interrupting the world as it is in ways that make even pious people indignant.
Jesus erupts into what we now call “Holy Week” with an agenda to push the envelope, to ask hard questions of his compatriots, to turn the world upside down…not in order to create chaos or destruction, but to disrupt the normal everyday exchanges taking place to call attention back to the reason for which life exists. From this primary relationship to God all other relationships are ordered, shaped and given meaning. In our historically Christian culture and society we often are blinded to the rebelliousness of this action, the call to nonviolent arms, and a radical manifesto of equality and social justice that all emanate from Jesus.
Questions for reflection:
I am reading this text at muslim morning prayer time, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It’s a loud and consistent reminder that prayer, like in the Temple, is an important part of everyday life here. The act of resistance for me, is not against the state, but against myself, my own desire to sleep in! Resistance to starting out the day thinking of my own needs and not those of others, of how I might profit, not how I might serve others.