In today’s Mass reading from the prophet Isaiah, we find a sentence that Jesus quoted when he was performing probably the most dangerous act of his ministry.
The prophet, speaking to the newly returned exiles in the name of God, declared “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 56, 7)
Jesus used these same words when he was cleansing the Temple in Jerusalem of the merchants who sold the animals for sacrifice, and the money changers who exchanged the peoples’ money for the special Temple currency.
As Jesus was clearing the merchants from of the Temple, he taught them saying “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people? But you have made it a den of thieves”. (Mark 11, 17)
This act of Jesus was a huge challenge to the priests and the religious authorities in Jerusalem. It was stating in a very public way that they were failing in their duty to the people of God and to the house of God.
There are some who say that this action of Jesus was the last straw that convinced the religious authorities that they must get rid of this troublesome Preacher who was threatening their very way of life.
As you gaze on the face of the helpless babe born to Mary in Bethlehem, could you ever foresee him becoming a threat to the highest powers in Jerusalem?