Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

(Sirach 44:1.9-13; Mark 11:11-26)

Poets use objective correlatives as ways of describing the mind’s inner-working. For example, when Robert Frost describes watching the woods fill up with snow, he means to tell the reader about his contemplating the eeriness of death.

The evangelist Mark presents an objective correlative in the passage today about the fig tree that does not bear fruit. Jesus curses its sterility as a sign of disgust with the Temple which he will enter shortly. Because the Temple has not fostered a holy people, it is doomed. The money changers are only the tip of the iceberg. More dangerous, the priests control the business and profit handsomely from it. As Jesus curses the fig tree, he will throw the money changers out of the Temple. And as he cleans up the Temple, he will perfect the Temple sacrifices with his own death on the cross.

Of course, we should not think of Jesus as anti-environmental for cursing the fig tree. Throughout the gospel Jesus is at home in nature. He retreats from the crowds to the mountains. He spends time by the sea. He even pacifies stormy weather. St. Paul will acknowledge that Jesus redeems the natural world as he saves humankind.