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In the clearing the Temple of the market traders, was Jesus angry with the right people, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way?

The Greek philosopher Aristotle said: ‘Anybody can become angry – that is easy; but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.’ We can be sure that in clearing the Temple of the market traders, Jesus was angry with the right people, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way.

This was surely the only time in human history when the emotion of anger was expressed perfectly, righteously and without sin. For as Aristotle says, being righteously angry isn’t easy and isn’t within everybody’s or indeed perhaps anybody’s power. Jesus’ zeal for his Father’s house, the temple, was the motivation and the source of his righteous anger. Market traders and merchants were operating within the temple precincts – their rough trade didn’t detract from the worship of God, it undermined it, and was offensive, sacrilegious, and blasphemous.

We are temples of God because the Holy Spirit lives in us. We tto need cleansing of the temple through the grace or repentance, conversion, and contrition. Through examining our lives, inviting the Holy Spirit to shed light on our thoughts, words, and actions, we can be set free form ways of thinking and acting which are not worthy of the Lord. Examining our lives is never easy; it requires certain courage to reflect on our behaviour. Self-knowledge and self-awareness are truly gifts of the Holy Spirit.

One way to cleanse the temple of our own lives is to examine how we stray from God through our senses and bodies. Our eyes covet money and possessions, our ears and lips indulge in gossip and slander, our hands lead us into temptation, our feet rush towards situations and circumstances which are occasions of sin, our sense of smell leads us to commit sins of gluttony. The Holy Spirit creates in us a zeal and enthusiasm to live the Beatitudes and to put the Sermon on the Mount into practice. On fire with holy zeal, enthused by God’s Holy Name, we drive out from our lives all that desecrates and diminishes our love and worship of God.

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