Year B: Third Sunday of Lent
The Gospel: John 2: 13-25
Imagine if, coming into church each week, we were faced with stalls set up and people trying to sell us their bread - their wine - their service books - their hymn books - anything that we might need for our worship.
At first, of course, we would feel affronted - but, as time went by we would probably get used to it. we might not like it very much - but we would get accustomed to buying or altar bread from one stall - our wine from another. We would get to know the stall-holders - pass the time of day - and perhaps accept that this was normal.
Obviously, this had happened to the people who visited the Temple at the time of Jesus. Those going to make sacrifices did need pigeons and cattle and lambs. If they were farmers, it was easier - but for the majority, the stall-holders were offering a service. The authorities had tried to make it clear that this was a religious activity by insisting that animals being bought for sacrifice had to be purchased with a special currency - Temple-money. This, of course, also had to be bought.
So - people coming to worship in the Temple were first confronted with scenes very close to those of the market-place.
Now, Jesus was not afraid of the market-place - he spent a lot of time there, teaching, preaching and healing. But, when confronted with the same things in the Temple, he became angry. As someone who regularly went off to quiet places to pray, he knew how essential it was - and how disruptive a noisy, bustle place could be.
The authorities are understandably angry in return - who does Jesus think he is?
Jesus understands that the days of the Temple are numbered - and that, in fact, a new Temple is being built - a new Kingdom. He is himself a Temple - a place where God is and all too soon, the sanctuary that was his own body would seem to be destroyed. But, unlike the Temple - so painstakingly built over so many years and so difficult to rebuild when destroyed, his body was charged with the very life of God and death could not hold him.
This gift he
passed on to his disciples - making them temples of the holy
Spirit - the presence of God in the world.
What does it mean for me?