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 with images of nature 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 disappointment with the fig tree anticipates the disgust he will feel when he enters the Temple. Because the Temple has not fostered a holy people, it is doomed. The money changers are only the tip of the iceberg. More reproachable are the priests who control the business and profit handsomely from it. As Jesus curses the fig tree, he will throw out the money changers. And as he cleans up the Temple, he will perfect the Temple sacrifices with his own death on the cross.
As Jesus expresses revulsion for those who misuse the Temple, he will not tolerate those who exploit Christianity. Over-zealous crusaders and inquisitors may come to mind, but we should examine our own lives for this evil. We may go to church just to put ourselves in someone’s favorable light. We may find in our piety a cause for pride when the righteousness God seeks is humility and compassion. There is need for all of us to orient ourselves properly so that we never incite the Lord’s wrath.