June 1, 2018
(St. Justin, Martyr)
St. Peter said, “Beloved: The end of all things is at hand. Therefore be serious and sober-minded so that you will be able to pray.” 1_Pt 4:7-13
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.” Mk_11:11-26
It might seem odd how the story of the fruitless fig tree sandwiches the story of Jesus cleansing the temple. And we might even wonder why Jesus would curse a tree for not bearing fruit when it wasn’t even the season for producing figs. You know, those are some pretty good questions. Yet when we look at the bigger picture, somehow it all seems to make more sense.
From our Gospel passage today, we heard how Jesus entered the Temple area the evening before, and got a good feel for everything that was going on there. You might say it was kind of a reconnoitering.
If you ever got a bad feeling based on something someone said or did: a hockey player being allowed to fight in the middle of a game, the media blatantly lying, a child playing a violent video game, then you have an inkling of the feeling that Jesus must have had on entering His Father’s house that evening.
You can just picture His restless night, contemplating what He would do the next day. What He would do to teach; what He would do to change some nasty habits, that were just not right.
And the lesson began with His disciples, and with a very unsuspecting fig tree. You see, as the fig tree, throughout the Old Testament, represented Israel, Jesus was showing His disciples that just because Israel looked pretty, all leafed out, it was as unproductive as the fruitless fig tree. And Jesus was saying that there is NO acceptable season for a lack of productivity toward God on the part of His chosen people. They really should have known better!
And just like the cursed fig tree, they would be judged, they would be cursed for their wrong-doing. Thus we have Jesus, rebuking the money-changers in a very animated display of making a point.
- No! Unsportsmanlike conduct should not be tolerated.
- No! The media should be held accountable for truth in their reporting.
- No! Children, as well as adults, should not be immersed in viewing violence, illicit relationships and drug abuse, because it only leads to more of the same – in real life – as we are all well aware.
And to bring it all to a climax, Jesus tells His disciples that with TRUE Faith in God, mountains CAN be moved and societies CAN be changed, and sins CAN be forgiven. And that’s something we should all seek from the very core of our hearts, because Judgment WILL be coming!
So how, then, do we prepare ourselves for that Judgment?
St. Peter gives us both the ‘Cliff Notes’ answer, when he says, “Let your LOVE for one another be intense,” and the ‘Judgment for Dummies’ answer, that goes something like this:
Pray for strength. Be hospitable. Stay in God’s Word. Serve others. Pray – in thanksgiving. Glorify God in everything. Forgive others. Pray – in supplication for our needs. Have Faith in God. And don’t do these things – just out of self-preservation, in order to be saved at the Final Judgment. Do them out of Love, just as Jesus gave to us the ultimate example of what love really means.
And when we’re all done understanding all of that, we REJOICE! Because rejoicing not only makes us feel better, but it brings joy to others as well. Rejoicing causes others to love as Jesus loves. And rejoicing even lengthens our lives.
You know, brothers and sisters, IF nothing else, God wants us
to be thankful and joyful.
And that’s – ONE fruitful fig tree!
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