“Clean Monday” is a term I had never heard until a couple of weeks ago. I was researching “Lent” itself when I ran across it.
Why was I rethinking Lent? I don’t really know. Suddenly I found myself wondering about the scriptural basis for it. Perhaps it had something to do with my giving up T.J. Maxx for Lent. The temptation lies right across the street from “my” Walgreens, so maybe I decided I had inflicted constraints upon my own self that even God would not require.
At any rate, I found that “Lent” simply means “spring” and was really instituted by the early church as a loose connection to Jesus’ forty days of temptation in the wilderness. I also discovered that the name “Easter” really comes from worship of a pagan goddess, causing many people to prefer “Resurrection Sunday” instead. (Thus far, even having found an “out,” I have stood by my original commitment, which, I have to say, has been a good thing.)
Back to the topic at hand. I like “Clean Monday.” Apparently, when I first ran across it online, someone had misrepresented it altogether, referring to it as the day Jesus cleansed the temple of the merchants and moneychangers. Hmm . . . according to scripture, that would be a good term for this day of Holy Week. So I ran with it (even though subsequent research produced the very different definition as the beginning of Greek Orthodox Lent). Some scholarly person will have to enlighten me. (I have never claimed to be a scholar, only a questioner/seeker/observer/etc.)
In the meantime, I am choosing to think of today as “Clean Monday.” The day after Palm Sunday, Jesus went up to the temple. What He found there disgusted Him. Moneychangers and dove-sellers taking advantage of folks. He drove them out and overturned tables and benches. He would not allow people to carry their “merch” through the temple courts. According to Mark 11:17, He said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ But you have made it a ‘den of robbers.’ ”
“Written”? Written where? My handy-dandy notes at the bottom of the page inform me that Isaiah 56:7 assured godly non-Jews that they would be allowed to worship God in the temple. By allowing the court of the Gentiles (one of several “outer courts”) to become a noisy, smelly marketplace, the religious leaders were interfering with God’s provision. They were not only taking advantage of out-of-towners who needed to exchange money and purchase offerings, but they were also robbing the temple of its sanctity. Also, apparently people were using these courts as a shortcut between the city and The Mount of Olives. No wonder He was angry!
“For all nations.” I guess this phrase has escaped my notice until now. Jesus was upset because the court of the Gentiles had been defiled. He was cleansing the temple on behalf of “all nations.” I love that. He, not we, invented the term “inclusive.” Thanks be to God!
Perhaps today I should allow Jesus to cleanse my very own “temple” of some things that corrupt it, like materialism and shortcuts. Maybe my misinterpretation of “Clean Monday” is not so bad after all.
“For we are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16b).
Note to readers: Please enlighten me. I welcome any info on “Clean Monday.” I had never heard of this until now.