Expulsion of the Money-changers from the Temple (fresco, detail), Giotto, c. 1305, in Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.— Matthew 21:12–13
Today and throughout the week I would like to continue these Easter Meditations, each time featuring one of the Frescos from the famous 14th century cycle by Giotto di Bondone, from The Scrovegni Chapel, Padua (Italy), that so beautifully elucidate the story as it unfolds.
These were the days before the vast majority could read of course- so such paintings would have been the main way people had of understanding and contemplating the story. Which is why churches were full of them and still are of course, in catholic countries.
It is a story that promises Rebirth for all & like all great tales - it's not just a story - it’s a teaching - a deep teaching, to be understood on multiple levels. Light comes streaming from it for our illumination. It is a tale - both exclusive to and transcendent of it's own time.
In this one week - this one week preceding Christ’s Crucifixion - we will see the entirety of possible responses and reactions to the idea of an approaching light - to the notion of utter renewal and purification of our souls.
The story is timely - as it is always timely of course - yet now - at this moment in 2020 - at the end of the world as we know it - of great change - the story sings!!!
We can already see as the people of Jerusalem saw - once upon a time - that things could go in a certain way - a good way - toward a renewed world with renewed values - but also that forces of darkness or just plain ignorance may very well refuse to contemplate a new beginning and hold on steadfastly to what they have - what they know - to what benefits them - even at the risk of harming others, harming nature and destabilising the whole. Still they want to go on - pursuing an outmoded agenda - an outmoded paradigm - no matter the cost. As it is today - so it was then.
And going forward, toward the notion of an evolved consciousness - the promise of the Easter Story - and of these times - we have to ask some hard questions of ourselves. Just how far we are prepared to go with the monetarisation of our lives - and - are there going to be any Sacred Places left by the time we are done?
Jesus, in his act of driving the money-exchangers away is re-sacralising the temple – re-mystifying it and bringing it back into the spiritual domain.
It’s a purification, a cleansing, a marking out of territory if you like.
It’s saying - this is sacred space.
Times were when the whole world was sacred - every living thing - nature herself. Christ is showing us how we might return to this understanding - this state of being - and he begins with the temple - the one place we all must preserve – and keep holy in ourselves - free from everything mundane and everything worldly - for these are the places where we can connect - through prayer, through ritual and meditation - to something far greater than ourselves - to the eternal light that will guide us to create a new and transformed world.
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