Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

(I Peter 4:7-13; Mark 11:11-26)

We should not be distressed when Jesus curses the fig tree. He is not in league with BP Incorporated; he is only making a symbolic gesture for what is coming in Jerusalem. The people at the Temple will not recognize him as Israel’s Messiah who will provide perfect worship as well as true leadership. Rather, when he comes into the Temple area, he will find business as usual -- men paying prescribed amounts for sacrifices that can hardly make up for their unrighteous lives. This charade, symbolized by the fig tree with the splendor of its leaves but no fruit, is what has to go.

In just a few days Jesus will be hanging on a cross outside the same Jerusalem. It will seem to many Jews as the execution of a troublemaker. But his followers will know that the people have had God’s beloved killed. This will become the sacrifice which renders the Temple superfluous. From that point on all people will have to do to find a worthy sacrifice is offer bread and wine as Jesus prescribes at his final supper. Of course, their act of worship must be accompanied by lives given to the holiness which Jesus lived.

It may be a shame to see Jesus as anti-environmental, but it would be a greater shame to see Christianity as opposed to Judaism. Certainly hypocrisy had its play among Jews in Jesus’ day just as today many Christians embarrass the Church. But Judaism is not just the root onto which Christianity was grafted but the pot in which it incubated. Faithful Jews deserve our respect and attention. They have much to tell us of the kind of Savior that we have in Jesus.