In the Temple he found people selling cattle and sheep and pigeons, and the money changers sitting at their counters there. Making a whip out of some cord, he drove them all out of the Temple, cattle and sheep as well, scattered the money changers’ coins, knocked their tables over and said to the pigeon-sellers, ‘Take all this out of here and stop turning my Father’s house into a market. Jn 2:13
He was certainly not a politician and did not mince his words. He acted in accordance with his higher feelings and paid the price of alienating those who held power.
We admire this in people of integrity who make us aware of how many compromises we make in our own actions. We can rationally justify any action at some level. ‘Common sense’ has justified many mistakes. The question that won’t go away, however, is at what level of reality and integrity do we choose to live.
Being unpopular is not necessarily a sign that you are acting justly. But to do the right thing consistently will inevitably lead you into a deeper solitude where you are open to criticism, vulnerable to your enemies and exposed to your own inner demons. Easier to go with the crowd and avoid your own depth. In solitude you will have fewer co-travellers but those with whom you make the pilgrimage will be in good faith with you.
Half way through Lent now is a good moment to evaluate how we are using this season of simplification and reduction. Has it lost its edge already? Have we forgotten why we undertook the practices we chose to do?
Measuring time has the advantage of making us aware of how imperceptibly, unconsciously it can slip through our fingers. Living in the full appreciation of the present moment is hard to sustain but it tends to help us to do the right thing in the right way at the right time. Right meaning what serves to make us and those we travel with more real, more free and more loving.
Even to make space for one extra meditation today would help reset the program. (Where does our immediate resistance to that idea come from?)
Laurence Freeman OSB