Spiritual Reflections

Turning Over Minds and Hearts

Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there, and he said, “It is written,‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

Then he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there, and he said, “It is written,‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard. 

Luke 19:45–48

This issue of Journey focuses on a dramatic episode in the life of Jesus that is narrated by each of the four evangelists: Matthew 21:12– 14; Mark 11:15–17; Luke 19:45–48; John 2:13–16. Each writer described the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and into the Temple. There were other times when Jesus had entered this temple, taught, healed, debated and spoke with those gathered. This particular entry was different. Jesus was different. 

The Johannine account situates this event very early in Jesus’ ministry. The Synoptics portray Jesus as coming close to the time of his death. Luke’s account offers the sense that the time had come for Jesus to fulfill his redeeming mission. 

Luke portrays Jesus as angry about all the things which distracted rather than helped the pilgrims focus on the presence of God within the Temple and within the community gathered to worship. His Father’s house was to be a place of communion with God, a house of prayer. Jesus understood that by flipping the tables, He might also flip the focus. He hoped that the focus would be on God, as the tradition suggested, rather than on the distractions of money and commerce. He does not speak against commerce only that it is not happening in the appropriate place. 

As I imagine this scene, I can hear Jesus saying to the people of his time, “Enough! Do you not understand? Hear in my words; see in my actions. Just as I have overturned these tables, you need to turn over your minds and hearts to God and to the needs of your brothers and sisters. That is the essence of what I have said. I walked with you; I dined with you. I shared in your suffering, in the joy of your healing, and the miracle of your transformation. I have woven your life into the paschal journey of my life. Be attentive! I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 


As you reflect on the articles and ideas that follow, you may wish to take some time to revisit the passage from Luke 19:45-48 and consider: 

  • Where in your life is Jesus saying, “Enough of the distractions! Be attentive and responsive to God’s presence and God’s ways within and among you”? 
  • Are you held spellbound and challenged by the person of Jesus and the community of the Trinity? Which of your tables needs to be flipped so that, in the temple of life, you can focus on God; so that you can live intentionally into the paschal journey with radical hope, and joy, and integrity, committed to unconditional love and the common good of all?

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