Reflections of food & Justice at Christ's Table
I've heard various sermons & read commentaries on the reasoning behind Jesus turning over tables in the temple shortly before Passover. His cry, "You've made my Father's house into a den of thieves." One explanation that I have found most powerful & aligning with the heart of God is Jesus seeing the injustice that was separating the poor from the rich into entering into the very presence of God. He knew that nothing, nothing should stand in the way of a repentant heart from seeing the face of God.
The injustice was raising prices for a sacrifice; thus, making it too high for the poor to buy the needed atonement.
Women who gave birth were required to offer a sheep for a cleansing sacrifice; however, there were those who did not have enough money to buy the lamb. God provided a way for the poor by allowing them to buy two pure doves in place of the lamb. What was happening is the corruption of raising the price of unblemished doves to the point that even the poor woman seeking cleansing for birth--could not afford it.
I can imagine it. Jesus walking into the temple. The crowds bustling, loud shouts, animals moaning, money clanking, like a camera zooming in & out and across the busy crowds catching little glimpses. Jesus catching these glimpses. The offering needed to be blemish free, pure. The vendor looking at the woman who brought all she had, but he said it still wasn't enough--not enough that is for the unblemished animal.
Pulling the bird out of the cage, blemished, small, bruised...this would be her offering to give to Yahweh. Her heart whispered and spoke, "please, I need an unblemished animal to sacrifice. This is all the money I have. I must offer the best."
There stood Jesus watching scenes like this over and over. Watching the poor being taken advantage of by only being given the blemished animals. It's no wonder Martin Luther become disgusted after taking his pilgrimage to Rome to see the Pope instituting 'indulgences,' which marketed the "procurement of salvation" to the poor, only to build a glorious Basillica.
Jesus, became insensed to see the blantant abuse & neglect of what Israel was to be about. To be a blessing to the nations, to give a voice to the widow & orphan and the alien. To care for them. To care for the brother & sister, because the Christ invites all to come to his meal.
We see the same being played out in the church of Corinth, where Paul becomes insensed with these richer Christians making the meal of Christ about exclusivity and not inclusivity. He cries against the lessening of Christ's meal & the concern for the poor, because the people being excluded from the meal were the poor.
This is why we need to bring Micah 6:8 to the table, even if our family mission statement spoke nothing of food.
1. Our Table is to Reflect the Table of Christ
It is clear that Jesus the Christ came to die, so that all may know him. Isaiah 49:6 says,
'You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.'
Again and again, we see that Jesus came to redeem, reconcile & restore all of humanity. We can look to the Last Supper to the cross to his resurrection, and clearly see that he did this not for a chosen few. God called Abram to be the Father of many nations, that through his seed would be a blessing to the nations. Our tables should, no, need to reflect the inclusivity of the Risen Lord preparing for a final feast when he redeems all of creation to him, not exclude those we don't like, love or think deserve it.
The first part of Justice at our table is loving & caring for our brothers & sisters. Our tables are to have seats open for everyone, not just our friends who we like.
How is this part of justice currently being played out in your own life to your table?
Justice & Food
Mercy & Love at the Table
Beginning on Tuesday, Redeeming the Table will be taking this focus of Micah 6:8 and weaving it together with A Year of Stone Soup for focus on Lent. Your presence & input is needed at the table.