Reflection for the Third Sunday of Lent, Dewi Sant and Charlie.

 “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” Jesus in today’s Gospel, John 2:13-22.

“Be joyful and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things you heard and saw in me.” Last words of St David. 

In John’s Gospel, the cleansing of the temple occurs at the start of Jesus’ ministry, after the first miracle of water being turned into wine at a wedding in Cana. In the other, synoptic, Gospels it happens after his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday but, wherever it is placed, the incident has powerful consequences. It’s only in John’s account that Jesus fashions a whip to use, but this was probably to control the animals which were to be sacrificed. The outer temple was for Gentiles only and was the place where those who supplied the animals, birds and grain as well as the traders who exchanged street money for the special coins that had to be used in the temple all made a great deal of money from those who flocked there. 

In the synoptic Gospels, Jesus calls the traders a den of robbers and his concern seems to be focussed on the crowds of people being charged exorbitant costs. But in John’s Gospel, he seems more concerned that the temple should not be a market place

and Jesus takes action accordingly, driving out animals and traders alike. The resultant chaos would not endear him to the temple leaders and, whether at the  beginning or the end of his ministry, he makes enemies who, perhaps understandably, are appalled at what Jesus has done to their accepted customs and practice.

Perhaps Jesus’ comments and actions are uncomfortable to read even today, when many church congregations are hoping to raise money from visitors for the repair, maintenance and running costs of the buildings in their care. Cards, books and religious souvenirs are often for sale and gadgets for electronic donations are frequently in use. But no-one is forced to buy or give anything – although sometimes an entrance fee is charged – whereas money had to be changed for use in the temple and the generosity of some donors can make a huge difference to the upkeep and outreach of some of the beautiful but costly buildings.

This week, St David’s day has brought reminders of Dewi Saint’s last words, which offer such good advice in the face of some of the enormous issues being faced today. He was born in a hilltop cell during a storm, having been conceived in violence when his mother, Non, was raped by a chieftain. With so much violence being faced today, his words may hearten and renew those who celebrate his life, which was not defined by its beginnings. The encouragement he gave to his followers to seek God, making   prayer and action hallmarks of ministry, is still a foundation of faith today.

Dewi’s guidance was echoed this week in the letter that Charlie, a boy of ten, decided to write to the King. From one Charles to another, he told the monarch of his experience of being diagnosed with a kidney tumour that required lengthy surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and eight months in hospital. Charlie has now been in remission for five years and advised Charles: “Never give up, be brave and don’t push your limits.” 

These are brave and heartening words from one so young who wants to encourage another person going through what they have already experienced. What words of advice would you give to someone else if you could and what little thing could be done today to make a difference to someone?

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Guardian.