Today we see a side of Jesus that is important to reflect on. In the cleansing of the Temple, Jesus’ anger was a protest against the commercialization of religion and the desecration of the sacred space. But it went deeper. It was a symbolic action through which he passed judgment on the Jewish sacrificial system. Jesus was declaring that temple worship, with its ritual and animal sacrifices, was irrelevant and could do nothing to bring people to God. Jesus was replacing sacrificial worship with spiritual worship.
Jesus was also protesting at the way religion had become narrow, nationalistic, and exclusive. Israel had failed her universal mission of humankind. It was God’s intention that the Temple should be a house of prayer for all nations. Unfortunately the Temple remained the jealously guarded preserve of Israel. No Gentile dared venture, under threat of penalty and death, beyond what was known as the ‘court of the Gentiles.’ Jesus boldly proclaimed that salvation, God’s free and unmerited gift, was not reserved for the Jewish people, but was being offered to all people.
Our first reading from the Book of Exodus gives us the Ten Commandments which are the blueprint for living a holy life. By living the commandments one enters into a special relationship with God. The commandments are to be seen as a gift, not a burden.
Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments, which have to do with our relationship with God and our relationship with others, into two. In doing so, he initiated a new and more exacting law — the law of love! We cannot claim to love God without loving and serving our neighbor. When we harm our neighbor we hurt our relationship with God. This covenant invites us to enter into a profound relationship with God who has created us in his very image and likeness, and with our neighbor. This is the sure path that will lead to happiness in this life and perfect happiness in eternal life.
— Fr. Dennis, March 7, 2021