1 Peter 4:7-13
Today’s Gospel passage from Mark might cause us to stop and ask – who is this Jesus, cursing the fig tree and chasing people out of the temple. This doesn’t sound like the gentle, loving Christ that we’ve come to know throughout the New Testament. Is he really acting in a fit of temper or because he’s having a bad day?
Or is Jesus using these actions to teach us? Because if we listen carefully there is truly quite a message here! First, we hear that Jesus curses the fig tree because it is not bearing fruit and then we are told of Jesus’ becoming angry at the money changers. Then the next day, the Apostles point out to Jesus that the tree has withered and Jesus replies with the wonderful lines on faith!
Scripture scholars tell us that the fig tree symbolizes Israel and Israel’s rejection of Christ, God’s great gift to them. But we could also say that Jesus is looking at us when he curses the fig tree, chases the money changers out of the temple and admonishes us to have faith.
I think we are being told to bear fruit, to do the work of God, not be distracted by worldly cares and further that if we do not act with faith we will wither up. As Christians, we belong to Christ. Those who belong to Christ are called to live and walk in faith; and that faith will work through the Spirit to bear fruit in them. All of these- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control are gifts (fruit) that we, as Christians, can bring to our world.
So let’s pray today for a deep and abiding faith and let’s ask for God’s help through Jesus to bear the fruit that is result of that faith. And let’s not forget the last line of this Gospel – "forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions."
Mary Lou Butler ([email protected]) is the interim administrator at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center, Citrus Heights, California.