26 August 2018 Ordinary 21

Vicar’s Reflection: 26th August 2018

You couldn’t buy meat shrink-wrapped on to polystyrene trays from refrigerated supermarket shelves in the ancient world. When people could afford a meat meal it meant walking the chosen animal down to the local temple to be sacrificed to a pagan god, slaughtered, then taking home a portion for your family meal. These temples were dedicated to one of the many pagan gods, so for Jews it caused a lot of conflict as they of course wished to be true to the God of Israel. This explains why there was so much joy when Solomon dedicated the first Temple in Jerusalem with the beautiful prayer from 1 Kings 8: 22ff. The Temple had many functions. People came to seek justice when accused of crimes; resolve disputes; get food as a form of welfare in times of famine and bring sheep and cattle to be slaughtered for food; and all in the name of ‘Yahweh’. No need now to use pagan temples! 1 Kings 8:63 records that 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats were sacrificed. That’s one ginormous barbecue! Sadly, profiteering and corruption came to be associated with making Temple sacrifices, a barrier preventing poor people from drawing near to God in this way. Jesus reacted strongly against this practice when he visited the Temple (John 2:14-16). This helps us to understand why Jesus called his disciples to the simplicity of breaking bread and sharing wine as a way of celebrating the real presence of God. A practice we continue every time we celebrate the Eucharist.

Alex Czerwonka

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