3-7-21 — Everything Is Holy — John 2:13-22 — The Rev. Joshua D. Gill

Home / 3-7-21 — Everything Is Holy — John 2:13-22 — The Rev. Joshua D. Gill

Everything is Holy                                                              

 Rev. Joshua D. Gill


Most of us were probably glued to our TV or our computers when Notre Dame was ablaze.  It was shocking to see one of the world’s most recognizable churches on fire. The fire that day started in the attic near the roof. One of the unique things about the fire alarms in France is they do not directly contact the fire department. The fire alarm notified a guard who was supposed to visually confirm the fire then contact the fire department. This obvious delay resulted in the fire consuming more of the building. More than 500 firefighters battled the fire. Firefighters guided by the fire department’s chaplain scrambled to save artwork and relics and move them to City Hall and then the Louvre for safe keeping. [1]

The reaction to the destruction was swift with national sorrow and donations pouring in. Claude Mbowou a political scientist at the Sorbonne described the loss this way, saying, “I’m a Muslim, but I’m still very moved when I see this place. It represents something deep, it transcends us. It’s a loss, not only for France but for the entire world. It’s as if the pyramids in Egypt were destroyed.” “Parisians didn’t realize what they had,” he said. “They walked on by. It was foreigners who came.” More than 13 million regularly visit the cathedral. [2]

Jesus’ actions in John’s gospel are surprising and shocking from the very beginning. He causes a reaction at a wedding in Cana, turning water into wine then traveling south to Jerusalem to cause another disturbance. Where many people would have witnessed a sustainable functioning economy with the buying and selling of cattle, sheep, and doves around the temple, Jesus sees something entirely different. Jesus sees a system in which people are financially taken advantage of, a system in which people are treated unequally, with foreigners and people with disabilities worshipping in one area, and Jews in another.  For Jesus this is a crisis that for him causes a deep reaction, overturning tables, scattering money, screaming that his “Father’s house was turned into a marketplace.”  Making a whip and driving animals and people out of the temple. This must have been a great disturbance. It is easy to read this passage and think Jesus has somehow lost it, but Jesus’ actions are a direct result of what is happening in the temple.  Jesus is calling into question one of the main ways the temple cult and the temple structure would have raised money.

When Notre Dame burned, the world felt the loss and the world put out the money. Billionaires were even competing to give the biggest gift. One French billionaire pledged 100 million euros, not to be outdone his rival an hour later pledged 200 million euros. The outpouring of aid from around the world was amazing. Many of those who donated were not connected to the Catholic Church. They could see the need and the loss to the culture. But one has to wonder why an outpouring of support has been unable to fix the Flint water crisis, or the historically black churches that were burned in Louisiana, or all those that don’t have access to health care or quality education.

For Jesus this was about a righteous zeal, a push against the status quo. A zeal that calls everything into question and said the status quo is wrong.  The question for us is what are we zealous for? What do we allow to consume our bandwidth, our budget, our calendar? What we do with our zeal will consume our lives.

This cost Jesus dearly, these actions along with his teachings lead directly to his death. The author says that the Jews then ask what gives him the right to do these things, to act like this. Jesus’ answer is to destroy the whole thing, whole system, and then he will raise it back in three days. Those three days solidify his concept of the Beloved Community. This zeal consumes the beloved community, a community that works to love self, neighbor, and even enemy. A community that has spread throughout the earth, bearing witness to the world. A beloved community that should influence every corporation, institution, every branch of government in this world. But it begs the question how are we deploying our zeal? How are we allowing it to influence our everyday life?

This reminds of a story I read the other day, A traveler and his companions prepared to set out on a long journey. In preparation, the traveler packed a second coat. His companion asked, “Why are you bringing a second coat?” The traveler responded, “I will need it.” The traveler then packed a second pair of shoes. His companion asked, “Why are you bringing a second pair of shoes?” The traveler responded, “I will need them.”  The traveler then packed extra food into his bag. Two of every kind of food he will bring. His companion asked, “Why are you bringing two of every kind of food?” The traveler responded, “I will need it.” The traveler’s companion finally set his small bag down and said, “Look how heavy your load is. Mine is light. I have but one coat, one pair of shoes, and just enough food for the days we will be walking. Why do you need so much?” The traveler said, “Because your coat is old and thin, and your shoes are old and worn. Having walked with you, I also know that you grow hungry often.” Confounded, the companion said, “But when I asked these things, you told me you would need them, not that I would need them.” “You are my companion,” said the traveler. “So long as we walk together, there is no difference between your needs and mine.” The traveler deployed his zeal to carry a heavy burden in so caring for his companion.[3]

The beloved community, the community that grows zealous about love, and marches alongside Jesus against injustice. May we all follow Jesus’ zealous lead in quiet and risky ways in our everyday saying and doing.[4]


[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/19/world/europe/notre-dame-cathedral-fire.html

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/16/world/europe/france-notre-dame-religion.html

[3] Erickson, Scott, Prayer.

[4] Dark, David