Saturday, June 2, 2012

If you believe, then unbelievable things can be possible.

My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings. ~St. Isaac Jogues

Gospel Text: Mk 11:11-26
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple area.
He looked around at everything and, since it was already late,
went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry.
Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf,
he went over to see if he could find anything on it.
When he reached it he found nothing but leaves;
it was not the time for figs.
And he said to it in reply, "May no one ever eat of your fruit again!"
And his disciples heard it.

They came to Jerusalem,
and on entering the temple area
he began to drive out those selling and buying there.
He overturned the tables of the money changers
and the seats of those who were selling doves.
He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area.
Then he taught them saying, "Is it not written:

My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples?
But you have made it a den of thieves."

The chief priests and the scribes came to hear of it
and were seeking a way to put him to death,
yet they feared him
because the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching.
When evening came, they went out of the city.

Early in the morning, as they were walking along,
they saw the fig tree withered to its roots.
Peter remembered and said to him, "Rabbi, look!
The fig tree that you cursed has withered."
Jesus said to them in reply, "Have faith in God.
Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain,
'Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,'
and does not doubt in his heart
but believes that what he says will happen,
it shall be done for him.
Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer,
believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.
When you stand to pray,
forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance,
so that your heavenly Father may in turn
forgive you your transgressions.'

The Gospel reading today, I think, can be confusing at times. Certainly, when Jesus came upon the fig tree, he knew that it would not have fruit because it was not the season for figs. After reading into the matter a bit, I learned that before figs comes a “precursor fruit.” Because Jesus didn’t find this precursor, he knew that the tree would be fruitless, even when it came time for fig season.

Surely, Mark is not writing on this subject to show Jesus’ anger toward a barren fig tree, but I think it refers more to the state of society. I believe that Jesus is referring to the barren society; the nation in which they live is barren and fruitless and will eventually die off, which could be a reference to the destruction of the Temple. In large part, I understand the reading as such due to the inserted section regarding the people selling and buying in the Temple. People were using the Temple as a trading location to gain riches rather than a holy place to pray. Jesus witnessed the corruption of society as such regularly, and so he warns his disciples regarding this destruction with the fig tree as a symbol. May we be fruitful in our lives by not being preoccupied with riches but rather be faithful and blessed by the Lord.

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