1 Peter 4:7-13 / Mark 11:11-26
We are often encouraged to read the Bible and to share the Word of God with others.
A good start would be to read the gospels. There are only four gospels and we would be rather familiar with what Jesus said and did in the gospels.
Much as we might be familiar with the gospels, that doesn't mean that it is going to be easy-reading and that we can understand it all.
Today's gospel passage could well be one of the most difficult passages in all
the Gospels, and we would stay clear of this passage in case there are questions that we cannot answer.
The cursing of the fig tree is the only recorded miracle of Jesus
that results in destruction rather than restoration. And it would be difficult to explain why Jesus was cursing a fig tree.
But with a difficult passage, there is usually a profound message.
But first we must have a general understanding of the fig tree. Fig trees are mentioned throughout the Bible.
With its large, broad leaves and wide-spreading branches, the fig tree
provides better shade than almost any other tree of the region. Sitting under one’s own fig tree represented peace, prosperity, and plenty.
Often used to symbolize biblical Israel, the fig tree bears fruit between three to ten times a year. When there are leaves in the fig tree, it also means that there will be fruit.
So when Jesus saw a fig tree in leaf at the distance, He approached it expecting to find fruit, but finding none, He "cursed" it, or condemned it gravely, such that it was like a death sentence.
Following the cursing of the fig tree is the cleansing of the Temple. Just as Jesus expected to find fruit on the fig tree, He expected worship and prayer at the Temple. What He saw was wheeling-and-dealing, which He condemned as like that of a robber's den.
So the cursing of the fig tree and the cleansing of the Temple has the same message. If the impressions and the expressions do not bear the proper fruit, then there will be condemnation and punishment.
The fig tree withered away. The Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. And with that is a grim warning for us.
Gathered as the People of God in worship and prayer, we must also bear fruits of forgiveness.
Coming for the 1st Friday Mass in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we already show our faith in His promises that He will answer our prayer, and we bear the testimony that Jesus had answered our prayer and will always answer our prayer.
And Jesus also expects us to bear fruits of forgiveness and to offer sacrifices in reparation for our sins and also in expiation of the sins of others.
We have expressed our faith in Jesus. Let us also bear fruit of forgiveness and love. That is not too difficult a message to understand.