My thoughts (Melody Merida):
One of my favorite children’s church songs growing up was a song called Hallelujah! The words were super simple: one group singing would sing as loudly as they could “Hallelujah” and then another group singing would sing as loudly as they could “Praise ye the Lord.” Essentially it was a contest to see which team could be the loudest.
I remember singing this song one sunny afternoon as we rode the church bus to summer camp. The bus was divided down the middle with some pretty equal shouters on both sides. My mother was a chaperon riding in the front seat of the bus that day.
About halfway through the song she stood up and ordered us to stop singing. She was angry! We sat dumbfounded in our seats as she asked us to explain to her what we were singing about. Someone mumbled an answer like “we’re praising God”; some others just shrugged and said it was nothing more than a contest. My mom said she had no problem with us singing the song if we really were singing it to praise God. She said, “Anyone who wants to continue singing the song in a way that they feel praises God should continue to sing it, but if you don’t feel like it was praising God then don’t sing it again.” We all waited to see if someone would actually start singing, and not surprisingly, no one did. Many of us were confused because we sang the song Sunday after Sunday in our Sunday school class. What was mom’s problem?
At the time I just thought she was being an embarrassing mom, but now I think I understand what she was trying to do. She reminds me of Jesus in today’s scripture. Jesus entered the temple and didn’t see people praising God; instead he saw money changers and vendors crowding out those who came to worship. The house of God was meant to be a house of prayer but some had turned it into a marketplace. It is the same as what my friends and I were doing with the “Hallelujah” song.
We humans have a way of corrupting that which God made good. Perhaps we’ve looked before at this story from Jesus’ life and passed judgment on those corrupting the temple, but perhaps instead we should hold the mirror up to ourselves. What holy places or holy moments in our lives have we corrupted by failing to recognize the presence of God there? Each day presents us with an opportunity to embrace a worshipful attitude offer praise to God through our actions.
Thought for the day: May we live every moment as if we are in the house of prayer, keeping our own temples free from corruption. Amen.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.