Friday, March 22 | Luke 19:41-48

The Rev. Carter Hawley

I love the image of Jesus driving out the sellers from the temple. I also empathize with the folks who were in the temple, just trying to make a living. People came to the Temple to make their sacrifice. Maybe they didn’t have the local currency, so enterprising locals created an ancient version of Thomas Cook Money Exchange. It doesn’t seem much different from landing in a foreign airport and being grateful to be able to change money. There were others who sold the very items that the pilgrims needed for their sacrifice. Again, this is not too different from picking up the bottled water in the airport before heading into the land of unpotable water.

So what’s the problem? Maybe these truly useful logistical services started as a way to help the weary pilgrims. But maybe the vendors lost their way, their purpose. It stopped being about helping pilgrims and more about lining their pockets with money from pilgrims who were a captive market.

I wonder if the vendors started with good intentions, lost their purpose, and then were perfectly happy selling the $8 bottle of water.

What does this say to us? I think we can have the best of intentions. We can do great things for great reasons, or at least we start that way. But somewhere along the way, we forget why, or more insidious, we inadvertently substitute a me-focused why, for the original God-focused why. Sometimes I suspect we allow that substitution, happily. I can get more, be more, earn more, if I do it for my purposes, rather than God’s.

Today, I want to examine what I do, and why I do it. Maybe the thing I’m doing can be salvaged, if I can get back to a God-centric reason. Maybe I need to ditch it because it’s gotten so far away from what I mean to do. And I can only right that course if I assess it honestly.

Carter Hawley is a deacon and has served at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral for a year.

Find all Lenten Devotionals from Trinity Cathedral here.