Monday, March 25, 2013

MoneyChanger Mondays

Monday of what we Christians call Holy Week was a bad day for the moneychangers of Jesus’ time.  Turns out it’s the same for Wall Street.

In their book The Last Week, Marcus Borg and John Crossan make a compelling case that Jesus’ action at the temple on that fateful Monday was not so much a cleansing (making ritually pure) as it was a symbolic prediction of the destruction of the temple as fruitless (fruitless is worse than being useless, as the thing – fig tree or temple or society – projects itself as useful but isn’t – and the lie has dire and bitter consequences for those deceived, those who believed the lie that fruit could be found where, in fact, there was none).

Borg and Crossan quote from Jeremiah 7 for the phrase ‘den of robbers’, arguing from the linkage between Jeremiah and Mark 11.12-19 (the moneychanger temple incident), that God insists not merely on justice and worship, but that God prefers justice over worship.  I would disagree (it may be hairsplitting, but I don’t think so) and say that in fact, God would have us understand that acting justly is itself an act of worship, of lifting our voices in praise to God and all that God has created.  Borg and Crossan distinguish (rightly) between justice and the forms of worship in quoting from Hosea 6.6, I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.  

But sacrifice and burnt offerings are the external evidence, the forms, of worship and they may (or may not) evidence actual or genuine worship of God.  But we know this: in all facets of life, we often act contrary to our hearts.

Jesus’ emphasis throughout his ministry is to get our hearts and our hands acting in concert – with each other and most importantly, with the heart of the divine.

And that, I think, is the problem of Mondays for we Christians in our time: our Sunday hearts and our Monday hands so often find themselves at odds with each other.

Not always.

But often enough to make Mondays a real problem.

Borg and Crossan interpret the events at the Monday temple as underscoring that we human claimed believers and followers cannot run and hide in our Sunday temples from what we’ve done on Monday.

I’m with them on this: this is a social justice commentary by Jesus on what’s happening in his time and in ours.  It’s a matter of public morality, decency and politics.

But to turn it towards private piety for a moment, I am wondering who or what my Monday moneychangers are and where they’re hiding within the Sunday temple of my own heart.

What is it that I hope you don’t know about me, especially when it comes to how I treat others?

Is Jesus Christ really President* of all my Mondays?

I want to think so.  I want to believe that the Jesus moment I had in church yesterday is with me in all my todays.  I want to think to that I am not Wall Street and that I don’t succumb to the worries, fears and behaviors of the world whenever Monday comes around.

May the wish become prayer.
May the prayer become thought.
May the thought become reality.
May the reality become my wish.


*which is just another way of saying ‘Lord’.  Listen to Woody Guthrie’s Christ for President on the YouTube link below.


Christ for President – words by Woody Guthrie
& music by Jeff Tweedy & Jay Bennett
performed on YouTube by Billy Bragg and Wilco

Let's have Christ our President
Let us have him for our king
Cast your vote for the Carpenter
That you call the Nazarene

The only way we can ever beat
These crooked politician men
Is to run the money changers out of the temple
Put the Carpenter in

O It's Jesus Christ our President
God above our king
With a job and a pension for young and old
We will make hallelujah ring

Every year we waste enough
To feed the ones who starve
We build our civilization up
And we shoot it down with wars

But with the Carpenter on the seat
Way up in the Capital town
The USA would be on the way
Prosperity Bound!


  1. Hallelujah! Really got my toe tapping on this Monday morning!

    How could Woody know that this would be as apropos today as it was when he wrote it? (Depression era?)

    Good insights, Beth.


    1. Marilyn, Woody Guthrie - so timeless, eh? I left out his Jesus song excoriating the preachers and bankers - sigh - so wish it weren't true. Thanks, as always, for your feedback. Blessed Moneychanger Day (now there's something you won't hear often!). Peace, Beth