The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

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Memorial of Saint Leo the Great

Date: 
Mon, 11/10/2014
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

I’d like to take a step backwards this morning….
to yesterday’s gospel where Jesus cleanses the temple.
I came across some background information I found to be enlightening.
It might help all of us understand Jesus’ behavior….why he became infuriated.
 
Merchants and money changers had converted the Court of the Gentiles,
the only place Gentiles were allowed to enter the Temple area,
into a noisy market, making it impossible for the Gentiles to worship Yahweh.
 
Temple authorities were sharing in the profits made by the merchants and money changers.
 
Their scheme worked this way: the merchants sold animals and birds for sacrifice at unjust prices,
about 20 times the regular price outside the Temple. 
The animal inspectors, bribed by the merchants,
disqualified even the healthy animals brought by poor shepherds and farmers for sacrifice.  These pilgrims were blackmailed into buying animals and birds from the temple booths. 
 
Roman coins were forbidden as an offering in the Temple. 
The money changers exchanged the Roman coins for the Galilean shekel
but demanded 1/6th of the value for their commission. 
For the poor, the Temple tax amounted to one and a half days of their daily wage. 
 
It was imperative that the people make their offerings at the temple
for the atonement of their sins.
Through these offerings they were forgiven and reconciled,
and re-established in a right relationship with God.
 
But the system had become corrupt.  The poor were being fleeced to benefit the powerful.
This social injustice enraged Jesus
for it was all being done in the name of religion.
 
Now, the cleansing occurred during the Passover.
There were over 100,000 people in the city of Jerusalem
so you can imagine the number of sheep and cattle Jesus scattered about.
In response to Jesus’ righteous zeal,
some observers would have been inspired with respect for his actions.
But the businessmen and Temple police,
all those taking advantage of the system, were no doubt outraged.
 
Since the Spirit of God has been pour out upon us
our bodies are temples of that Spirit.
The corruption within caused by sin needs to be cleansed, driven out.
 
Let us welcome Jesus into our heart, our soul, this day.
And may his presence free us from sanctimony (which is hypocritical holiness),
from duplicity and from our crooked ways of thinking and acting.