Friday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
(I Peter 4:7-13; Mark 11:11-26)
Poets sometimes use physical objects as symbols describing the mind’s inner-working. For example, when Robert Frost depicts the horseman watching the woods fill up with snow, he means that the man is contemplating the eeriness of death. Such symbols have been labeled objective correlatives.
The evangelist Mark presents an objective correlative in today’s gospel passage. He pictures Jesus cursing a barren fig tree as a sign of his disgust with the Temple which he is about to enter. Mark is indicating that the Temple like the fig tree is doomed because it has not fostered a righteous people. Jesus will shortly throw the money changers out of the Temple. More definitively, his death will bring about the tearing of the Temple veil which renders its sacrifices useless.
We should not think of the evangelist and much less Jesus as anti-environmental. Throughout Mark’s gospel Jesus is at home in nature. He retreats from the crowds to the mountains. He spends time by the sea. He even stands up to the storm. But Jesus does expect religious people like us as well as sacred places to bring about fruits of righteousness.