Friday, November 7, 2014

How is our religion?

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
November 9, 2014

John 2:13-22

The episode of Jesus' intervention in the temple of Jerusalem has been recorded in the four gospels. It's John who describes his reaction most graphically -- with a whip, Jesus drives from the sacred enclosure the animals that were being sold to be sacrificed, he overturns the tables of the money changers and throws their money on the floor. A scream comes from his lips: "Don't turn my Father's house into a marketplace."

It was this gesture that triggered his arrest and rapid execution. To attack the temple was to attack the heart of the Jewish people -- the center of their religious, social, and economic life. The temple was untouchable. The God of Israel lived there. Jesus, however, feels like a stranger in that place -- that temple wasn't his Father's house but a marketplace.

Sometimes Jesus' intervention has been seen as his effort to "purify" a religion that was too primitive, to replace it with a more dignified cult and less bloody rites. However, his prophetic gesture contains something more radical -- God cannot be the accessory to a religion where everyone is looking out for his own interests. Jesus can't see that "family of God" which he has begun to form with his first disciples there.

In that temple, no one remembers the poor malnourished peasants he has left in the villages of Galilee. The Father of the poor can't reign from this temple. With his prophetic gesture, Jesus is denouncing the roots of a religious, political and economic system that neglects the last and the least, the favorites of God.

Jesus' actions ought to warn his followers to ask ourselves what sort of religion we're cultivating in our churches. If it isn't inspired by Jesus, it may become a "holy" way of shutting ourselves to God's plan that He wants to put forward in the world. The religion of those who follow Jesus is to always be at the service of the Kingdom of God and His justice.

On the other hand, we are to review if our communities are spaces where we can all feel we are in "the Father's house." Welcoming communities where the doors are closed to no one and nobody is excluded or discriminated against. A house where we learn to listen to the suffering of the most vulnerable and not our own interest.

Let's not forget that Christianity is a prophetic religion born of the Spirit of Jesus to make way for the Kingdom of God by building a more humane and fraternal world on the road towards its ultimate salvation in God.

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