Wednesday, March 14, 2012

John 2

     Two stories are in Chapter 2. First we encounter the wedding at Cana and Jesus turning water into wine. It is an odd sign and has been used by commentators and preachers over the years to support, encourage and even defend many things. The only clear thing to be said is that Jesus helped save a family from embarrassment by making sure the wine did not run out before the end of the wedding feast. The dynamics of his mother making the request and the "secret" between Jesus and the servers is all part of the fun. The only conclusion I arrive at is that Jesus can change things from ordinary to extraordinary. Water is the most common substance on earth. Transforming common water into uncommon wine is a symbol of what Jesus does for each and every one of us each and every day.
   The second story is a display of emotion. The money changers, the sellers of doves, cattle and sheep are all profiteering on the religion of the people and the sacred place. Sacrifices were only allowed to be offered at the temple in Jerusalem. Everyone had to go there for their family offering and to atone for their sins and other matters. This was further complicated by the Sadducees (who controlled the temple) not allowing "foreign" currency to be used in the Temple area but only allowing the Temple Shekel. The money changers were trading shekels for Greek and Roman coins at a profit The sellers of animals were making a profit -- everyone was profiting from people's spiritual and religious needs.
     There are times when anger is the right response. St. Paul says to "be angry, but do not sin (Ephesians 4:26)". There are things that should make us angry (abuse of a child, injustice in any form). That anger should be channeled into an appropriate response. Jesus response is not violent -- he is not beating people but clearing animals, he is not whipping people but overturning their tables and pouring out their money.

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