A few days ago I visited my friends in their newly rented flat. They told me how the flat had been completely neglected. My friends moved in about a month ago and since that moment they have two jobs: their own and cleaning the flat after the previous residents. The flat has good wall covering, pretty good furnishings and tight and soundproof windows. But everything was filthy and smelly. When my friends started to clean the carpet in the living room, they had to empty the hoover bag three times. This is in the 21st century, Western Europe, one of the most civilized countries in the world, but it appears there are some people who behave as if it were before the age of electricity and detergents. We could say that this is their own choice and I agree – as long as you don’t have to live with such people…
Quite likely the filth and stench in the Jerusalem Temple was much worse. As we read in today’s gospel, the Temple courtyard was full of cattle, sheep and birds. The smell of droppings, dung and unwashed people’s bodies must have been horrible in the hot climate of Judea. The stench mixed with noise made the courtyard a repulsive place. But when we hear of the sellers and bankers it appears that they had an important and serious reason for being there: they helped pilgrims to fulfil their religious duties. Such a nice excuse! But there was only one real reason: earning money. The sellers were so determined do as much trading as they possibly could, that nothing else counted. Everything was for sale, even the Temple holiness.
Two thousand years passed away, but nothing has really changed. There are people ready to sell everything: personal dignity, body and soul. People, who became in baptism the temple of the Holy Spirit, but now this holy and internal temple is full of filth and noise, full of tradesmen selling every corner of human heart and soul. We are witnesses to the destruction of God’s temple within people’s hearts.
Can we find a remedy? Yes, we can. Firstly by letting Jesus enter into our hearts and clean them up from our own filth. Secondly, praying and fasting on behalf of the people, who lost the direction. We are not able and not allowed to get into somebody’s heart with a whip to clear it violently. But we can and must help Jesus to find the entrance to their hearts; to help Jesus fulfil his own words: “in three days I will raise the temple up”.