Jesus upturned the tables of money changers and drove away dove sellers in the Jerusalem temple. It is an action that is hard for some of us to grasp because it totally goes against the image of Jesus we have: gentle, patient, forgiving, understanding, loving and caring. But not a frustrated and angry Jesus; it just doesn’t quite fit in! But the Bible tells us the story as it is; it doesn’t try to clean things up and make Jesus look better than that. The Bible respects reality completely: Jesus can no longer bear the sight of those business tables in the temple. He is upset and angry and acts out that frustration. Period. But what is in those tables?
The tables block the people from seeing God. The tables have taken the people away from the God who dwells in the temple waiting to bless and hug His children. The tables occupy the space God should have occupied in their lives. The tables signify preoccupations that steal all thoughts about God away. Instead of thinking about God and how to nurture relationship with him in the temple, the people worry about their business deals and profits. That is what the tables are set for! God comes in Jesus Christ several times in the temple, but they do not see him or recognize him. The tables block their view; it is what lies in front of them. It is like a child who is so consumed with his video game that he is completely deaf to the mother’s voice. After a while the frustrated mother comes in and angrily takes the video game away so that the child could hear her!
But so are all of us. We have all kinds of tables that block our view of God: tables filled with preoccupations about money, work, beauty, health, relationships, progress, self-esteem, social promotion, internet, gadgets, vanity, search for fame and recognition, unrelenting grief, sadness, and all kinds of desires and wants. Each of these preoccupations takes a big chunk of our thoughts and energies away from the things that matter. And because these tables and their contents are constantly before us, it is hard to see or hear God! Which is why sometimes, God allows these tables to be overturned so we could wake up from the sedation we suffer from these preoccupations. But it often happens that when life upturns our tables, instead of getting into the space to encounter God and our truest selves, we quickly set up new tables filled with anger, sadness, grudges, arrogance, resentment, guilt, complaints, bitterness, self-pity! These later tables are even harder to upturn. This is why we suffer more and for a prolonged period, and we feel God doesn’t care, that we are alone in the whole wide world! He is so near, but the Tables are heavy barriers!
What tables have you unknowingly set up that block your view of and encounter with God and with your deepest self? What are on those tables? How has God tried to upturn those tables in your life, and how did you react to those incidents: setting up new tables or taking the opportunity to move into the Sacred Space where God invites you? May you receive the grace to see what those tables are and be open to what God is doing with them. Amen.