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Viewpoint from Fr Gordon Williams for 16th Feb 2012

Parish Priest
St Mary’s Catholic Church

The Tiger winthin


Psychologists tell us that anger is simply a part of what it means to be human, and that suppressed anger is much more harmful to ouScan0002r personal growth. We don’t mind speaking out about aggressive foreign policies, or bankers bonuses, but we are reluctant to speak about our own angry and aggressive attitudes and behavior. We tend to cover this up with politeness, but often our real feelings leak through.


In many of our Churches this is the end of the third week of Lent. In our scriptures on Sunday we will hear the story of Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem. The story gives us an image of Jesus that is a far cry from the meek and mild image we sometimes see. Here we see Jesus very angry at the traders and sellers and money changers in the Temple and he clears them out in an unceremonious fashion!


By way of explanation, John’s Gospel tells us that Jesus’ disciples remeDove rightmber the words of Scripture “Zeal for your house will devour me” (Jn 2: 13-25). Jesus is consumed by zeal, a passion that might show itself in anger. Jesus’ command was clear “Take all this out of here and do not turn my Father’s house into a market.” That might feel a bit uncomfortable for us Catholics who always have a piety and book stall in or near the porch of the church! The story of Jesus and the traders in the Temple serves to remind us that the Church is a holy place; a place of worship and prayer. When Jesus threw them out he was reclaiming that Temple for the worship of God.


We must never forget that the Church is set aside to be a sacred place where we can either be together in prayer and celebration, or just to be alone with God in solitude. The Temple could be seen as a symbol of Jesus’ own life. He is the sanctuary of God which is being destroyed by the authorities. In clearing out the moneychangers, Jesus recovered the Temple for God. It’s not easy for us to absorb a picture of an angry Jesus. However, to be angry is to be human. Jesus’ anger was directed at the service of his Fathers house and the Kingdom of God. Perhaps just sometimes, we need to channel our own anger and speak out against those who seek to devalue our faith in today’s world. When we do not have the courage of our convictions, we continue to give permission to the ‘traders’ to occupy the Temple! Sometimes the only thing to do is disturb the peace!