Advent 8: Pushing through the crowd.

We went to the mall in the evening. It was a gamble. Some evenings the crowds are a little lighter, even during the Christmas season. Tonight wasn’t one of those nights. We sat for a bit in the food court.

IMG_0782.JPGThere were lines at Chick-fi-a, at the Thai food place, at the cheesesteak place. In front of each counter, sales people had sample trays offering toothpicked tastes, creating more congestion. And we watched mothers and kids trying to work across the lines on their way to the restrooms.

Nancy turned to me to say something about the lack of consideration the hungry people had for the desperate people. From the next table, we both heard, “Imagine someone knocking the trays out of their hands and then climbing over the counters.”

We started to laugh. Then we realized that it was Saint John.

He had a cup of water and a stack of Saltines. But he wasn’t eating. He was watching Burmese child pulling on mom’s hand, almost panicking.

And then John was in front of the little family, pushing through the crowd. We couldn’t see them, but we could see path they made.

After a bit John came back.

“Did anyone get hurt?” Nancy asked, smiling.

John shook his head. “I had no interest in hurting anyone. But I did have a strong interest in getting that child where he needed to go.”

“Did that have something to do with your comment about knocking the trays down?” I asked. “Because that sounded a little like Jesus pushing around the vendors in the temple.”

“People always think that was about the vendors extorting,” John said. “But it wasn’t. Most of them were doing an acceptable business helping people have what they needed for worship. It’s just that the place they were doing business was also the place where the women and former gentiles were trying to worship.”

I must have looked lost.

“According to the rules, gentiles could only go so far into the temple. So they stood in the lobby to pray, trying to focus. And the people who could go further treated this space as a place to do business with others, not God.”

John smiled.

“Jesus didn’t get angry often. But when people desperate for God couldn’t get to him…”

I finished his thought. “Jesus cleared the path no matter what it took or cost.”


John’s account of Jesus’ actions is in John 2:13-22.