Today is the Mass for the last day of our school year, before the children (and the staff) head out to summer break.
Jesus is always seeking to make things new. When he came into the world, he didn’t come into the world to keep things the way they were. He intended to cast out sin and its effects on people, and to call people back to true and authentic worship, and a real relationship with God who made us and loves us.
So, in today’s Gospel, he comes to the Temple in Jerusalem. And at the Temple, it was customary to have people there selling animals to be used for the sacrifice which was required of them, and to have money changers there to exchange the Roman coins for coins that could be used to pay the Temple tax. All of this was legitimate business. But the problem is, the legitimate business had become more important than really worshipping God. It had become more important than taking care of those in need. It became more important than really praying, or really living the Jewish faith.
So Jesus overturns the tables and chases the business people out of the Temple because he saw that the Temple worship didn’t bear fruit any more, kind of like the fig tree in the earlier part of the Gospel story that didn’t bear any fruit. Yes, it’s true figs weren’t in season. Yes, it’s true the buying and selling in the temple area was legitimate. But none of that matters. The only thing that matters is bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God and becoming a people who really pray and really live their faith. That’s the new thing that Jesus wanted to do. And he wasn’t going to be patient with things just being the way they were; the time had come for change.
I think that’s kind of true of us too. We tend to like the things we’ve become used to, or even if we don’t like them, we are comfortable with them because change makes us nervous. We may not like it when our friends or classmates talk poorly about someone, but we go along with it because we don’t want to make people think we’re weird. We may even feel uncomfortable when people say something hurtful or racist about another group of people, but we don’t have the courage to stand up for what we believe. And Jesus wants to turn over those tables in our lives so that we don’t become withered up trees that bear no fruit. We disciples are called to bear much fruit.
So we’re wrapping up a school year today. After Mass, you’ll do a few last things in your classrooms and then head out into your summer break. Some of you will travel on vacation, some will be doing sports or camps or just hanging out with your friends here in town. Whatever it is, it will be nice to have the break, nice to have a new routine. But I want to encourage you not to just let things go over the summer, important things that you’ve learned here at Saint Mary’s. I’m going to encourage you to let Jesus turn over the tables of things in your life that you’ve become way too comfortable with and let him do something new in you.
And you can do that by committing yourselves to encouraging your families to take you to Mass every week. You can do that by making sure you take some time to pray each day. You can do that by making it a point each day to do something nice for someone. You can do that by speaking a kind word to someone who is having a hard day: whether it’s your parent, a sibling, or just someone you see at the ice cream shop. All of these are ways to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. It’s not hard, it just takes our willingness to give up the withered up stuff we’ve just accepted, and really want the new things that Jesus can do in us. If you do that, I promise you’ll have the best summer of your lives. In the quiet time after Communion this morning, I want you to pray to Jesus, thanking him for all the blessings of this past year, and asking him to help you bear much fruit for his Kingdom.
Jesus always wants to do something new. We just have to let him.