Jerusalem had become the center of religious collaboration with imperial power. The high priest and his circle of aristocratic families ruled the Jewish homeland on behalf of the Roman Empire. They owed their positions of power and wealth to appointment by the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. On Monday, Jesus performed a provocative public demonstration. In the courtyard of the temple, he overturned tables where money was being changed into appropriate coinage for paying the temple tax. His words as he did so indicted the temple as “a den of robbers.” The phrase does not refer to the moneychangers in particular, as if they were “robbers” who charged an unfair rate of exchange. The reference is to what the temple had become: the center of religious collaboration with imperial power, including imperial taxation. The authorities wanted to arrest Jesus but feared doing so in the presence of the crowd of pilgrims who were at the very least sympathetic with what Jesus was doing. The theme of conflict and confrontation continued through the rest of the week and soon became deadly.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?
Are there times when our principles should conflict with the actions of those who collaborate with injustice? What can we do? What do we do?
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those selling doves. And He declared to them, “It is written: “My house will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it ‘a den of robbers. ”
Jesus’ cleansing of the moneychangers from the Temple is a reminder to Christians of the need for authentic worship and conformity between liturgy and life.
Some things you must always be unable to bear. Some things you must never stop refusing to bear. Injustice and outrage and dishonor and shame.
Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice.
It’s not that I’m not willing to compromise. But I won’t compromise on principles.
Ann Marie Buerkle
Never compromise a principle or relinquish a vital truth.
Alfred Armand Montapert
Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles.