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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Righteous Anger

"On entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves." Mk 11:15

Few gospel scenes are more dramatic than Jesus chasing the money changers out of the temple precincts, and with good reason. Jesus was angry, an emotion we rarely associate with him or Christianity, despite the fact that it is almost always anger that brings about change in a society. It was anger over taxation without representation that spurred the American revolution. Though uncomfortable, anger is an important emotion for all to feel.

Jesus is not angry that people are making a small profit exchanging one currency for another. His anger is at those who charge whatever they can get from pilgrims, most of whom were surely poor. In the Palestine of Jesus' day, pilgrims would come to the temple once in their life from all over the known world. If they were Greek, they would have to change their drachmas into shekels and then when they arrived at the temple they would have to change their shekels into temple shekels, and this last exchange was often usurious. Money changers would charge whatever their unsuspecting victims would pay. That this might mean the pilgrims and their families would not eat properly that day meant little to the money changers. Their profit ruled their consciences.

While all of us expect to pay more for basic services, like food and drink, when we visit a shrine or monument, gouging is never acceptable. That Jesus would defend those being abused by unscrupulous business men reminds us to do the same on behalf of the poor. Injustice and oppression, especially against the poor, is never o.k. Anger that leads to transformation is.

Today, examine your conscience regarding the practices you might employ to gain leverage over others.

Has the anger and outrage of others ever moved you to change?

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