2:16 He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

The controversial Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who died in 1987, coined the phrase “spiritual materialism, to refer to any spiritual practice used as a tool to grasp for personal benefit. “Spiritual materialism” is any spirituality that aims at ego-gratification and self-aggrandizement.

The merchants and the moneychangers in the temple were spiritual materialists. They were using their religious system for their own gain.

Spirituality is not a “marketplace” in which we give our little spiritual practices in exchange for some promise of enlightenment or greater peace, strength, or wisdom. We do not embark upon this journey with Jesus in order to get something we feel we need, or gain something we sense we lack. We make this journey in order to open more deeply to the reality of what is. Our journey is towards honesty, clarity and truthfulness.

The journey with Jesus is a journey towards recognition of the true nature of the human condition, the human community and the world we share.

The purpose of the temple was to be the “Father’s house,” that is, to stand as a reminder that every part of life is the “Father’s house.” There is nothing we can do or need to do to earn an awareness of God’s Presence. There is nowhere we need to go to get closer to God.

The heart of Jewish spirituality announces that God is not confined to temples or particular practices. There is nowhere we can flee from God’s Presence (Psalm 139)

In Luke’s Gospel in the parable of the two sons, when the older son reproaches his father for being stingy, the father replies,

Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. (Luke 15:31)

This is the truth of the human condition. This is the truth that the temple was built to communicate.

How have I tried to use my spiritual practice in order to gain something I feel I lack, rather than opening to the reality of my human condition as a child of God who is always with God and who possesses all that God possesses?