According to Mark’s Gospel, on the day after he entered Jerusalem to the acclaim of many, Jesus returned to the city and “overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves” (11:15) and then he said, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a den of robbers’” (11:17).
Given that the booths for the merchants were set up in the outermost area of the Temple, namely, the Court of the Gentiles, it seems that Jesus’ indignation was prompted by the fact that such business activity interfered with the ability of the Gentiles—the outsiders—to worship God.
Let’s imagine ourselves as among those money changers and dove sellers.
O God, how open are we to others? In what kinds of activities and practices do we engage in our churches that interfere with the ability of others—of those who are outside the church—to come and worship you? Do we let the “business” of the church get in the way of the purpose of the church—namely, to foster prayer for all people and to enable worship of you by all who will?
On this Monday of Holy Week, with much trepidation, we ask you to overturn our tables, to upend our lives, and to refocus our churches as you need to do.