“The scribes and the elders came to him and said, ‘By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” (Mark 11:27-28)
According to Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph in the world is that good men do nothing.” For far too long, evil triumphed in the temple such that persons possessed with demons could go in and out of the temple undetected. The House of Prayer had become reduced to a den of robbers.
At the time of Jesus, the temple attracted pilgrims from all over the world. As these pilgrims could not travel with their animals for sacrifice, they had to buy at highly exorbitant prices in the temple. Also, the religious leaders refused to accept the local currencies of pilgrims. Imagine exchanging your money at a crazy rate and then using what you get to buy so-called approved animals only to still offer these animals to the people in charge of the trade.
Many people knew about the corruption going on in the temple, but they said nothing. Evil triumphed because good men did nothing. The religious leaders were a cabal. They exercised both spiritual and economic power over the people. Externally, they gave the impression of holiness, but their hearts were devilish. Wherever corruption becomes institutionalised, one must be ready to pay the ultimate price to restore sanity.
Jesus knew his action would ultimately lead to his death, but he was ready for the outcome. The temple leaders were shocked. “Where did He get such audacity?” Since they could not tell the source of John the Baptist’s authority, Jesus refused to tell them the basis of His authority. They were silent because they had nothing to say against Jesus.
If the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, the question is: “Are there still good men in our country today? What exactly are you doing to end corruption? How zealous are you for righteousness?” The book of Sirach in today’s first reading says: “I resolved to live according to wisdom, and I was zealous for good, and I shall never be disappointed.” (Sirach 51:18).
If we consider ourselves good people, we must be zealous for good. We cannot continue to fold our hands and allow evil to triumph.
Let us pray: Almighty Ever-Living God, grant me that audacity at work in Jesus when He cleansed the temple. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: Ecclesiasticus 51:17-27, Ps. 19:8-11, Mark 11:27-33)*
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu