Thieves in the Temple

“Thieves in the Temple”
A reflection on Luke 19:45-48
Friday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
©️2022 by Gloria M. Chang

Then Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.’” And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words.

Luke 19:45-48

Thieves in the House of Prayer

Quoting from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11, Jesus laments, “My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” At the yearly Passover feast, moneychangers charged pilgrims a fee to exchange their currencies for the local half shekels required for the temple tax. Sellers of sacrificial animals at temple booths hiked up their prices by over a thousand percent.

Almost every visit to the Temple involved its sacrifice. Victims could be bought outside at very reasonable prices; but the Temple authorities had appointed inspectors, for a victim must be without spot or blemish. It was, therefore, far safer to buy victims from the booths officially set up in the Temple. But there were times when a pair of doves would cost as much as 75 pence inside the Temple and considerably less than 5 pence outside. Again it was a deliberately planned victimization of the poor pilgrims, nothing more or less than legalized robbery. Worse, these Temple shops were known as the Booths of Annas and were the property of the family of the High Priest.

William Barclay, Daily Study Bible

Refiner’s Fire

Christ, the messenger foretold by the prophet Malachi, comes to his temple “like a refiner’s fire, like fullers’ lye.” With zeal he refines and purifies the sons of Levi like gold or silver, “that they may bring offerings to the Lord in righteousness” (Malachi 3:1-3).

For our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:29

Christ cast out from his house of prayer
Thieves skulking in a robber’s lair.

2 Replies to “Thieves in the Temple”

  1. This Gospel reminds me of those who head up charitable organizations and reward themselves with large monetary compensation. In common parlance of political arenas (temples) this greed is called “pay to play.” Favors get paid for. How important to seek background information about the group’s budget to see how much is allotted for salaries and overhead. There is information available about contributions to politicians to assess where the money goes. I feel sorry for those who are taken in by telephone scammers asking for money. Perhaps the money changers had initial good intentions for those arriving with foreign currency. Yet they’d be supporting sellers who overcharged. Money making strongly influences how we live. May my budget include the needs of others, not solely my needs. May the god of money be idolized less and our God of goodness be upheld more.

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