MAY 28. Ord time. B. Wk 8. Fri. Mk.11. 11-26
After he had been acclaimed by the crowds, Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple. He looked all round him, but as it was now late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Next day as they were leaving Bethany, he felt hungry. Seeing a fig tree in leaf some distance away, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it, but when he came up to it he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season for figs. And he addressed the fig tree. ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again’ he said. And his disciples heard him say this.
So they reached Jerusalem and he went into the Temple and began driving out those who were selling and buying there; he upset the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those who were selling pigeons. Nor would he allow anyone to carry anything through the Temple. And he taught them and said, ‘Does not scripture say: My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples? But you have turned it into a robbers’ den.’ This came to the ears of the chief priests and the scribes, and they tried to find some way of doing away with him; they were afraid of him because the people were carried away by his teaching. And when evening came he went out of the city.
Next morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered to the roots. Peter remembered. ‘Look, Rabbi,’ he said to Jesus, ‘the fig tree you cursed has withered away.’ Jesus answered, ‘Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, “Get up and throw yourself into the sea,” with no hesitation in his heart but believing what he says will happen, it will be done for him. I tell you therefore: everything you ask and pray for, believe you have it already, and it will be yours. And when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too. But if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your failings either.’
Christ came among us as a teacher, and it is important to recognise this truth, particularly in this example of the fig tree. He was looking from fruit; - but he made the strange comment he was looking for fruit, even though he knew it was not the right time of year to expect it.
Notice how the disciples heard his statement ‘you will never bear fruit again’. The lesson here was not about getting figs off fig trees, but rather about the power of prayer, and how his disciples had access to this power when they were carrying out their mission!
When the disciples saw the fig tree the next morning it was “withered to the roots” so the lesson was obvious; - the tree has been healthy and full of leaves, and the next day it was withered away; - solely as a result of Christ’s prayer. And He went on to make it clear he was teaching them about prayer when he said: “Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, “Get up and throw yourself into the sea,” with no hesitation in his heart but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.
Then he went on to reveal the sentiments one had to have when one is praying; - “When you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too.
Christ was teaching his disciples the necessity of prayer, and the sentiments one has to have,
and even in clearing the temple, the message was the same: “My house is a house of prayer!”
Gospel Acclamation cf.Jn15:16
I have chosen you from the world, says the Lord,
to go and bear fruit that will last.