An Angry Jesus?
Today we encounter Jesus turning over tables and driving animals out of the Temple courtyard with a whip of cords! This story has always stood out against the “meek and mild” picture of Jesus many of us grew up with – a Jesus usually pictured with pale, delicate features and blue eyes. But the Jesus in this story is strong, vital, and athletic…and no doubt dark-skinned and swarthy.
While the other gospels use this story near the end of Jesus’ life, just after Palm Sunday, John’s Gospel begins with it: it appears in chapter 2. Maybe John wants us to know from the outset that Jesus can get angry when he encounters behavior that he believes runs counter to God’s will. He is even disruptive.
To me, Jesus’ anger is a reflection of God’s own indignation when we contravene God’s commandments – when we treat each other badly, make war, despoil the creation, and disrespect the God who made us. Anger is the very natural reaction to events and behaviors that we abhor – how else would we react?
The big question, however, is how do we respond in our anger? We teach our children to own their angry feelings, but still control their responses. Spiteful words and destructive behaviors are not okay, even though we are angry. Yet Jesus does overturn the furniture and wreak havoc with the livestock in the Temple courtyard. Are there times when such acting out is warranted?
We need our righteous indignation to fight some crucial battles in our society right now. One such battle is over guns: who should have the privilege of keeping a gun? What kinds of guns are reasonable for citizens to own? How do we keep guns out of the hands of irresponsible persons? The March for Our Lives is gathering on March 24, 2018 in Washington to demand a response. St. Dunstan’s will be hosting folks from out of town that weekend. Palm Sunday weekend will be full of meaning this year. JBM