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Deep cleaning

"Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve." Mark 11.11

In his version of Jesus' cleansing of the temple, Mark adds the intriguing detail that suggests Jesus' original intention was to carry out the deed (driving out the money-changers) on the occasion of his entry into Jerusalem which we celebrate at Palm Sunday. Why did he change his mind? Were the merchants already packing up? Had most of the worshippers already gone home? It is a sign of his careful management of the final momentous week of his earthly mission that Jesus was prepared to change his plans in order to secure the desired effect.

There was nothing impetuous about what followed, therefore. When Jesus did go in and drive out the merchants and money-changers, it was a deliberate challenge to those who were abusing both God and the faithful (by turning the nation's house of prayer into "den of thieves"). And it was more than that - it was a foretaste of God's ultimate judgment, when he will deal finally and conclusively will everything that does not belong in his good creation, so that what does belong can thrive in safety and peace. Where does that leave all the unjust economic structures that concentrate obscene amounts of wealth in the hands of a privileged few and leave vast numbers festering in poverty?

Jesus preferred a crown of thorns to a bejewelled diadem. It is time for us all to decide whose side we are on: the one that prioritises self-advancement at the expense of others and even of the planet we share? Or the alternative that treads lightly, reaches out with compassion and honours the Creator, living generously and taking only what is necessary?



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