“All your life, you will be faced with a choice. You can choose love or hate. I choose love.” ~ Johnny Cash
We are faced with choices every moment of every day of our lives. Some choices are rather easy and uncomplicated. Other choices are much more difficult. Many times, we end up making the wrong choices to the detriment of ourselves and others.
We don’t often think about the fact that our choices are not made in a vacuum. They have real life implications that reach beyond ourselves. Our choices can improve or harm. Since our choices do not affect ourselves solely but touch the lives of others, we need guidance.
The Israelites received that guidance in the form of the Ten Commandments. This weekend’s first reading from the Book of Exodus recounts the moment when the people were given the law with the instructions to embrace the commandments with their entire being.
The commandments were important because they codified a way of life for the people that focused on the preservation not just of the self but of the entire community. The reason that so many things were deemed as bad or wrong was because choosing to do them not only hurt the individual but hurt the community as well.
In this weekend’s Gospel, Jesus took those who sold animals in the temple as well as the moneychangers to task. Looking at it one way, those people were providing a service. Sacrifices were required by the law for all sorts of reasons. If someone was coming to the temple, it was more convenient to be able to purchase an animal to be sacrificed rather than bring one along on the trip.
However, those who sold the animals as well as the moneychangers were not there merely to do a good deed and a service. They were exacting unfair exchange rates or gouging the pilgrims by selling animals at an exorbitant rate. They were, in effect, using the requirements of the law to make themselves rich by taking advantage of others in the community.
Jesus would have none of that. He made a whip out of cords and drove them out of the temple. Jesus would have none of that in our own lives as well. He does not want us using the practice of the faith to our own advantage and at the expense of the community. He wants us to see what is required of us, understand the reason that it is required of us, and then humbly embrace it so that we truly may be His people and He may be our Lord.
The practice of our faith is not just about ourselves. It is about others and about God.
FAITH ACTION: Choose to love not because it is required but because it is the right thing to do.