You are fed with scripture and with sacraments. And after mass, we breathe out and we are sent into the world as living ambassadors of Christ’s love, and next time you come we breathe in again a more people get caught in it and more people get sent out, more people get caught and more people get sent out.
In the name of the father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen, please sit. Well, the clock thinks it’s midday, it’s ringing the Angelus, it’s a bit previous, isn’t? I love this gospel. I love it because it’s so easy, there are parts of Jesus life that are difficult to understand there’s parts of what Jesus does, that requires a deep faith and and interrogation of the scripture. I’m just deciding whether or not I’m going to let the bell ring out or carry on.
What do you think? Carry on.
But this one is great because you can you can see it, can’t you? You can see it in your mind’s eye. And more than that, you can feel it. You’ve all come into church or you’ve gone into church at some point in your life and you’ve gone oooh I don’t like that. I don’t like the way they’ve done that, so I’m not sure that should be they like that and you get this this feeling in your tummy, don’t you?
And you get you get wound up and you have a really visceral reaction to it. And often, of course, when we have those reactions and we say, no, the church shouldn’t be doing this, no, this shouldn’t be happening in the church. No, we shouldn’t put that. No that shouldn’t go there! When we feel that we often use this gospel as our justification, we often say, well, Jesus threw the money lenders out.
He didn’t like any commercial activity happening in the church. Get out and reclaim that righteous anger of Jesus. And we enjoy that righteous anger, don’t we? We enjoy it. Let’s be honest. We enjoy feeling like that we’ve got Jesus on our side and we can cast out those things of the church that we don’t like. And the anger that Jesus shows in this gospel isn’t instant, that’s the first thing to take away from this gospel. The first thing is that that anger isn’t instant.
Jesus knows what’s going on in the temple, as do all of the disciples. This doesn’t come as a shock. It’s not like he’s turned around, walked into the temple and gone. Good gracious me. What’s going on? Get out now! That’s not the kind of anger we’re talking about here. We’re talking about a slow anger and deliberate anger. He doesn’t turn round the corner, go into the temple and start screaming and shouting. He goes into the temple knowing what’s happening, seeing what’s going on.
And then he sits down and makes a whip of cords. Now, a whip of cords is about nine lengths of leather and they have to be tied together. Now, that’s, that’s not instant righteous anger, is it, that’s sitting down and having a good fume. And we’ve all done that as well, haven’t we? We’ve all gone home from something and sat there and grumbled under our breath as we plan what we’re going to do about it.
Well, that’s what Jesus is doing here. He’s fuming. He’s so angry. He’s doing something, he makes his whip of cords and then he drives everyone out from his temple. And I mean everybody, even the cattle, everybody gets thrown out of the temple. The tables are turned over and they are all ejected from the temple. This is ultimately what leads to Christ being condemned on the cross, because what he says next. Is what he gets pulled up on, what he gets accused of in front of pilate.
Did you say that you would build this temple up in three days? And of course, the answer is yes, yes, he did say that, but of course, once again, we have that dichotomy of Jesus saying one thing and people hearing another. Jesus is turning everything on its head physically and spiritually, because, of course, what Jesus is talking about isn’t that he’s going to rebuild the temple. He’s talking about the temple of Jesus, body of the body of of of the temple being in all of us through his death and resurrection.
So he’s talking about something over here. But once again, people aren’t hearing and they they only believe when they see signs and wonders. And this is the recurring theme, right the way up to the crucifixion is that you don’t listen to what I’m saying. I’m saying this is going to happen, but you don’t believe me unless I provide the signs. Well, listen up, folks. The biggest sign of about to come and it will take three days.
So what’s what’s the anger about in the temple? Is it about the fact that they’re selling things? Is it the fact that there’s grubby commerce going on in the temple? Well, no, not really. Is it about the fact that there are animals in the temple? No, not really. Is it about the fact that they’re doing this? So they’re doing that? No, not really. The fact is, what Jesus is angry about is the fact that the temple itself and the commerce that goes on within it has become the point of their lives.
The temple has stopped being the way through which people come to know the love of God, and it started to become a thing in and of itself. And that’s a warning to all of us today, we’re all excited about the building work we’ve got going on at the St. Anselm, and we’re really excited that we had a company out the front selling cakes yesterday and that’s going to help our money. And after church today, we have a PCC meeting where I assure you, will be talking about money.
We were talking about what we can use the building for, how can we make sure the building is supported and run and how can we pay the bills? That’s a vital and important thing that the PCC does. But all of that, every single thing that we do with this building is about one thing. It is about helping people discover the love of God in their lives. It’s about helping people discover a relationship with Jesus Christ. A deep, deep relationship with Jesus Christ.
And the moment it stops being about that, the moment it stops being about finding God. Finding that relationship with Jesus Christ is the moment we start to behave like the moneylenders in the temple. That’s where Jesus will be upset with us. Let me give you an example, some of this is is uncomfortable. This church building, I look around at it and I think I wish it was tidier. You know, I wish it was I wish all the brick was really tidy and I didn’t have bits of salt coming through the brick.
I wish that I could fix that stained glass. I wish that I had a way that I could put the clothes that we give to the vulnerable people in Hayes somewhere tidy. I wish there was a way that I could put the food away somewhere tidy. I wish there wasn’t as much dust around the place. I wish this building could be pristine so that when people walk through the door, they could be lifted up to God.
I’d rather. We lived a life that Jesus has asked us to live.
To clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to give water to the thirsty, to provide a refuge for those in danger. I would rather us be able to come together in a building that was falling down if it meant that we were preaching the word of Jesus outside of this place every day of the week. I’d rather knock this place to the ground if it ever started to become a barrier to us knowing Jesus. But you know what, this building is nothing without the people in it.
This building reflects the love of God each and every single one of you has, and so this church isn’t pristine. This church isn’t perfect. This church is falling down in places. This church has cracks in it because it is like us. And it breathes out the love of Jesus Christ into Hayes out of that door, pours love out of that door, pours the lived reality of what it means to love Jesus Christ. And as it breathes out into Hayes, as we breathe back in, people flow with it.
As this building breathes out the love of Jesus Christ, people are caught in it, caught in that breath and brought into this place. And you know what, as long as we keep remembering that this is what we are for, that this is what this building is for, then we won’t go far wrong. We don’t need to worry about Jesus turning up and making a whip of codes and driving us from it. On Sunday, we breathe in and the people of God in Hayes come to this place.
You are fed with scripture and with sacraments. And after mass, we breathe out and we are sent into the world as living ambassadors of Christ’s love, and next time you come we breathe in again a more people get caught in it and more people get sent out, more people get caught and more people get sent out. That’s the point. Of this church building. And so I ask you to pray for the PCC today as we meet after this mass to talk about those practical things that we need to talk about, we talk about how we can deal with salt coming through the bricks.
We talk about the plants growing in the brickwork. We talk about the building work. We talk about the electrics that aren’t quite working in the right way. And I pray that you hold us to account, in that, that you never let us get caught up in those details rather than our mission.