Reflection: Third Sunday of Lent

Welcome to our series of Lent and Easter reflections.

The reflection by The Reverend Dr James Hawkey on the third Sunday of Lent explores how people respond to sacred space as part of their worship. This reflection is inspired by John 2: 13-22.

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John 2: 13-22

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, ‘Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’ The Jews then said to him, ‘What sign can you show us for doing this?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.


Holy places inspire many emotions. Fervour, delight, admiration, ecstasy. All these are features of how people respond to sacred space. But in his poem, Church Going Philip Larkin rather shifts our focus, referring to a ‘serious house on serious earth.’ Christian worship and Christian discipleship are serious matters, not to be commercialised, or viewed as entertainment, leisure, or just one possible choice in a competing marketplace.

Worship is fundamental to our being human, and it is through our worship that Christians become who they are – the Body of Christ, in new relationship with God and one another. We go beyond ourselves, so that we can know ourselves in Christ. ‘Look Father, look on his anointed face, and only look on us as found in him’, as one old verse puts it. The Temple of Christ’s Body, which will be crucified, torn down, and will rise, speaks to us about human dignity and human destiny. We are called into that Temple, the Church, in which we can learn again how to love and how to forgive, as we have been forgiven. Not a market place, but a mending-place.


O Lord Jesu Christ,
Son of the living God,
who didst devote thy life and precious death to our most plenteous redemption:
grant that what thou hast wrought for us,
may also be wrought in us.
That growing into thy likeness, we may serve and share thy redeeming work.
Who livest and reignest in the glory of the eternal Trinity,
now and forever.