The Sunday Project
God is Flipping Tables for Us
Third Sunday of Lent |
In those days, God delivered all these commandments: “I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation; but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain. For the LORD will not leave unpunished the one who takes his name in vain.
“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you. In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you. You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him.”
Brothers and sisters: Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me. At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.
While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.
For Myself and many of my queer siblings, it has felt like the Catholic Church wanted us for our gifts and talents but didn't really want all that we are.
Growing up in my early teens and young adulthood, I often heard words of affirmation from Catholic parishioners and Clergy about the emotion and expression when I played music and worshiped. It made me feel great, but it also reminded me of feelings of suppression and unrest that I must give up or hide part of myself to be welcome in church spaces.
I have read church's "morality" clauses about what is acceptable in my presentation at church and my life outside my parish walls. That told me my gift and talents were welcome, but my queerness was supposed to keep hidden. My Catholic spaces said that not all of me was welcome with God and in community with others.
It is why today's Gospel in John 2 is powerful for me. Because God breaks for the ways, we are asked to provide for Church but aren't fully allowed to be in it.
My beautiful queer siblings, God wants all of you present here. He has shown frustration when all are not given space in His Father's house.
He is flipping tables for you.
Passover was a celebration for all, not just those who were Jewish and well off. Passover was for all Israelites. Many Gentiles would travel to Jerusalem and visit the Temple. Inside the temple walls, Jewish people would worship. Beyond those walls, there was supposed to be a place for Gentiles to pray, worship, and give offerings to God. But, their space was being taken up by merchants, and these people (often already going through persecution) were being taken advantage of. This brought so much frustration and anger to Jesus. He made a whip and flipped tables to drive out Merchants taking advantage of an area meant for all people.
Jesus fought for their space and sibling, Jesus is fighting for yours and mine too.
I felt disconnected in my Catholic faith because I felt unwelcome as my whole self in many faith spaces. As I felt unwelcome in Christian spaces over the years, I started to crowd my own space that kept me from fully experiencing and worshiping Jesus.
As I read the Gospel this Sunday, I see Jesus continuing to help us see Temple as not just a physical place but something greater than that.
This past year has felt like a year-long lent for me. It has given me time to reflect on ways I have been excluded from my Catholic Churches and communities and how that has felt.
During this Lenten time, I wonder if there are new ways to encounter myself as a temple of God and How I can give myself more space to pray and worship as all that I am?
And if I start seeing myself as a temple for God, in what ways can I break down the walls of my heart and make myself open to others?
This Sunday's Gospel challenges me to search for where God may be asking me to flip tables in my life, and even within the communities around me.
Beloved siblings, In a Gospel that reminds us that Anger does not have to be an awful thing, I am curious for how God is challenging us to fight for a place in the Temple for ALL of us.
As I start feeling home in this body and I start allowing myself to be seen as a Temple, I pray that we see that God has been fighting for all of us to be welcome here. To worship, and pray and offer up our gifts and talents.
For Jesus has thrown tables in His Father's house, so that His Children may see He is making room for us here.