I was reading over the lesson from John’s gospel about Jesus cleansing the temple by driving out the livestock, turning over the money changing tables, and ordering the sacrificial doves to be released. It brought to mind the passage of the first letter of John that says that if, we confess our sins, Jesus will cleanse us of all unrighteousness. The two seem to be related.
The cleansing of the temple was an unpleasant experience, to say the least. Noise, confusion, disruption, and physical pain. What else could it have been? So what do you suppose it is like when he does the same thing to our souls? I mean, we’ve got a lot of valuable stuff stored in there. We hoard it. We treasure it. We worship it. We trade some of it for other stuff we want more. I’m not so sure that it’s all that different from Herod’s cattle filled, money changing, bird emporium.
I imagine Jesus showing up to cleanse me from all unrighteousness, and me saying something like, ‘Hold on a minute. Can’t we talk about it first? How about looking things over and just getting rid of the really bad stuff, because some of the other is very important to me’.
We non Roman Catholics got rid of the idea of purgatory a long time ago, and for good reason, but maybe not good enough. I don’t suspect, I know, that in spite of regular prayer, confession and reception of Holy Communion, that I take with serious intentionality, I have also kept a well stocked inner courtyard of cattle, cash and birds with which I do a profitable business of buying and selling advantage while appeasing my conscience. Maybe you do too.
Anyway, if Jesus is going to come in to do a little cleansing, I’m likely to find it a disruptive and painful experience, but one to be happily endured. I imagine myself standing before God on the other side of this life with him saying, ‘Welcome Steve, glad you're here, but first we need to clean you up a bit. You’re a mess. Let’s get those old rags off and give you a good scrubbing inside and out’.