Lent 3 – Year B
This week the pericopes have been extended by a couple of verses, following the format of TextWeek. There is hardly a time when an extension doesn't help with a better setting or view of consequences. So, this passage will proceed to verse 25.
John's scene in the temple takes place early in Jesus' ministry (note the difference between the length of his life and ministry as, believe it or not, there is life beyond officially demarcated ministry). Imagine how your interaction with the world would have been different if you had prayerfully taken on the economic/religious powers early in your career.
I expect that you and I would have come closer to living with Joe Hill and Mother Jones, with Paul Robeson and César Chávez, with Dorothy Day and Clarence Jordan. While unrecognized at the time, our life would live on (Joe Hill: "I never died," said he, "Good luck to all of you.").
Even with an earlier intentionality, I expect we would have come to the same economic impasse as our current situation – eternal vigilance does wane, temptation is persistent – but we would be in a better position to deal with disappointment in our magical thinking regarding invisible hands.
The extended three verses remind us not to entrust ourselves to the prevailing ethos. When you stop to think about it, you, too, know what is at stake and how far officialdom falls from that. Make what you can better without an illusion of getting some fame or benefit accrued to you.