Church of England Diocese of St.Albans Elstree and Borehamwood

Thought for the Week, 7 March 2021 (3rd Sunday of Lent)

5 Mar 2021, 10 a.m.

JOHN AUTON’S THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

7 March 2021 – 3<sup>rd</sup> Sunday of Lent

Today’s Lectionary reading is John’s Gospel, chapter 2, verses 13 to 22, in which Jesus clears the Temple of the men who were selling cattle, sheep and doves for use in sacrifice, at extortionate rates. Similarly he overturned the tables of the money-changers who were changing the worshippers’ Roman and Greek coins into the required Temple coins, again at extortionate rates. He said to them in verse 16:

Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market<span style="font-size: 1rem;">!”</span>

I am very familiar with this particular Gospel passage, because my own dear Mother used to quote it to me many, many times. My Mum strongly disapproved of the fact that I led a team of volunteers at my previous church, St Barnabas in North Finchley, who operated the Church Bookshop for an hour at the end of each of the main Sunday services, morning and evening. We sold Christian books, magazines and greetings cards to the congregation.

At the end of the shift, when I was counting our takings, I frequently found my Mother standing over me, shaking her head and saying:

I just hope Jesus doesn’t come into this church and catch you at it!  You call yourselves Christians! If you were Christians, you would give these books away, not sell them. If Jesus caught you, he would throw your precious cash register off the table, and kick it out of the door<span style="font-size: 1rem;">!”</span>

I am not convinced that Jesus would have done that, because all my team members worked out of the best of motives, and any profit we made was used for evangelism. But I can see my Mum’s point that, had our motives changed from distributing Christian knowledge to making financial gain, Jesus would have been as angry with us as he was with the money-changers in the Temple.

In this story, as so often in the Gospels, Jesus was asked a question, and his answer was totally different from what was expected. The Jews asked him, in v.18, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus’ unexpected reply in v.19, which the disciples did not understand at the time, but did understand after his crucifixion and resurrection (v.22), was that the “Temple” (meaning his own body) would be destroyed, and would be raised again after three days.

John Auton, Licensed Lay Minister, St Nicholas Church, Elstree