Jun 2 2023 Reflection
Friday 2 June 2023
First Reading: Sir 44:1, 9-13
The Lord takes delight in his people.
PS 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b
Gospel Reading: Mk 11:11-26
Today’s Note: Friday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Times
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.”
Why did Jesus curse a fig tree? Fig trees were a common and important source of food for the Jews. Bad figs or a decaying fig tree was linked with evil deeds and spiritual decay. The unfruitful fig tree symbolized the outcome of Israel’s unresponsiveness to the word of God. The prophets depicted the languishing fig tree as signifying the desolation and calamity of Israel due to her unfaithfulness to God (see Joel 1:7,12; Habakuk 3:17; and Jeremiah 8:13).
Faith must be nourished by the word of God
The history of Israel is one long preparation for the coming of the Promised One – the Messiah. But the promise is unfulfilled in those who reject Jesus through their unbelief. (See also Jesus’ parable of the barren fig tree in Luke 13:6-9). Jesus’ cursing of a fig tree is a prophetic action against the faithlessness of those who rejected his message. For faith to be fruitful and productive, it must be nourished with the word of God (2 Timothy 3:16; Colossians 3:16) and be rooted in love and obedience to the truth (Galatians 5:6,7)..
Jesus purifies his people to make them holy
Jesus’ cleansing of the temple was another prophetic action. In this incident we see Jesus’ startling and swift action in cleansing the temple of those who were using it to exploit the worshipers of God. The money changers took advantage of the poor and forced them to pay many times more than was right – in the house of God no less! Their robbery of the poor was not only dishonoring to God but unjust toward their neighbor. In justification for his audacious action Jesus quotes from the prophets Isaiah (56:7) and Jeremiah (7:11). His act of judgment aims to purify the worship of God’s people and to discipline their erring ways.
Pray with expectant faith in God’s power and mercy
After this incident Jesus exhorts his disciples to “have faith in God.” They are to pray with expectant faith for God’s will to be accomplished – no matter how difficult or challenging the situation may appear. The phrase “to remove mountains” was a common Jewish expression for removing difficulties. A wise teacher who could solve difficulties was called a “mountain remover.” If we pray with expectant faith God will give us the means to overcome difficulties and obstacles that stand in the way of accomplishing his will for our lives. If we want God to hear our prayers we must forgive those who wrong us as God has forgiven us. Do you pray with expectant faith?
Lord Jesus, increase my faith and make my fruitful and effective in serving you and bringing you honor and glory in all that I do. Help me to be merciful and forgiving towards others just as you have been merciful and forgiving towards me.