The Word This Week ~ 8 March 2015
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First Reading: Exodus 20: 1-17
The second commandment to keep the Sabbath holy was experienced as a moment of liberation for the ancient Israelites.
With joy they observed the one day in the week when work was forbidden. The collective memory of slavery in Egypt and backbreaking labour without rest made them appreciate the value of the Sabbath; a space for spiritual and physical renewal. Perhaps it is a collective memory of poverty and dullness that has caused us to be careless about the day of rest unlike most European counties. We abandon this day of rest at our own expense.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 22-25
We can relate to the early Christians of Corinth who found themselves sandwiched between two very different cultural groupings; zealous Jews and cynical Greeks. Being Christian today, we can find ourselves caught between a ferociously anti-religious element in Western society and an emerging global religious extremism. Like St Paul, all we can do is propose Jesus Christ.
Jesus was not afraid to criticise religious authority when it needed to be criticised, but at the same time Jesus was fundamentally in love with God and respectful of people.
Gospel Reading: John 2: 13-25
To understand the full significance of what is going on in this Gospel it is important to realise that there was nothing corrupt going on in the Temple. The money changers and animal dealers were all acting in accordance with the Law of Moses. The basic religious observation of the Jewish people would not have been possible without this ‘market’. The money changers converted Roman coins into Temple currency so that pagan images would not be carried into the more sacred areas of the Temple complex. The animal dealers provided the necessary sacrifices for the rituals of the Temple. Therefore, it was reasonable for the Jews to question Jesus on his behaviour. The Gospel teaches us that although God never changes, the way in which God is worshipped changes from culture to culture. The Old Temple was coming to an end; to be replaced with the New Temple, Jesus Christ.