Jesus leads a peace procession in the streets of Jerusalem. Evidently even then, there wasn’t peace. The parade culminates at the Temple. This should be the locus of God’s peace in the world. This should be a place of serenity, devotion, and reverence. You know the hushed feeling of awe you get in a sacred space. Even in our little church open to the world, there is a sense of reverence. The Temple should have been a holy place of peace where you know to speak in hushed tones.
In the Palm Sunday account, when Jesus and the peace procession get to the Temple, what occurs is surprising. Instead of a candlelight vigil or a prayer service, we are given the story of Jesus driving out the money changers and overturning their tables. It’s as if things go from a peaceful demonstration to a riot. We know that line can be thin. An orderly market is thrown into chaos. This is one of the few stories we have of Jesus literally upsetting things. He disrupts the functioning of the Temple. Obviously, some people will not be happy about this. Surely the money changers were not thrilled with following their coins all over the ground and collecting their pigeons and other animals from hither and yon. The Temple officials would not have been happy about the disruption to their business and their income. They would not like the upset of the sacrifice system from which they benefitted and were fed though at the expense of the masses. To bring peace, Jesus uncovers the corruption of the sacrifice system. The peace of God and bilking the believers do not go hand in hand.
This episode shows us Jesus getting right to the heart of things. Follow the money. In religion, in society, in politics, in our personal spending, Jesus shows us that what is going on with the money is what is going on. It reveals people’s true commitments and intentions.
If you want to know more about yourself and what you care about, look at your spending and your budget. To know more about an organization, look at what is done with the money. When investigating political candidates, see where the money comes from and what the person’s policies are around money. Want to know more about a church or religious institution, look at the budget and finance statements. And if you can’t get access to the figures, someone does not want you to follow the money because it leads to the truth.
May we align ourselves with Jesus’ procession of peace even when it disrupts our financial assumptions and conventions. May we follow the money and see the truth exposed. It is only through honesty that we can rid ourselves of the corrosive effects of greed which prevent God’s peace. Amen.