Advent with the Earth: Day 20 (Dec. 22)

Animals are fascinating. They have their own ways of navigating life in this world.

Doves No Longer for Sale

Mark 11:15 – 19

“Then they came to Jerusalem. And he [Jesus] entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves, and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, ‘Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations”? But you have made it a den of robbers.’”
– Mark 11:15 – 17, NRSVUE

Animals are fascinating. They have their own ways of navigating life in this world. They bring their own communication styles, interests, and creativity. And each is unique.

Yet people sometimes dismiss the inherent value of animals’ lives by assigning a different value based on how animals can benefit humans. Their lives become reduced to a function of the food, labor, clothing, or wealth they provide to people.

When Jesus enacts a protest of the economic system at work in the temple, he halts the selling of doves, presumably for sacrificial purposes. While saving the birds’ lives may not be the focus of his demonstration in this story, his actions expose a pivotal truth: Doves and other animals were not made for buying and selling. Their God-given value cannot be quantified. Jesus’s protest of economic injustice opens a path to a new economic, ecological, and theological relationship between humans, animals, and God.

How can you affirm the value of animals that fascinate you?

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Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version updated edition of the Bible

Image of dove is by Awmleer on the Unsplash website