Prayer of the Day
Feast of St. Augustine of CanterburyMay 27th, 2016
Two incidents are intertwined in today’s Gospel, the cursing of the fig-tree and the cleansing of the Temple. Both incidents are connected and are explicit of each other. The fig-tree episode is puzzling unless it is looked at in light of the Old Testament. We are told that Jesus is hungry and seeing a fig-tree in leaf he walks over to see if he can satisfy his hunger. However it was not time for figs as it was Passover, in April, and Jesus would know that figs do not appear until June. Jesus curses the tree for its lack of fruit and the next day it withers and dies. In the writings of the prophets vines and fig-trees often symbolised Israel. Jesus’ search for ripe figs recalls God’s desire to find in Israel the fruit of righteousness and unfortunately he did not. “There is no cluster to eat, no early fig that I crave” (Mic. 7:1). In the Temple Jesus is disgusted by the commercialism he finds there. In Mark’s Gospel fruitfulness is an image of responding to Jesus in faith. The tree’s lack of fruit signifies the absence of faith and prayer that Jesus finds in the Temple. The withering and death of the fig-tree is an indication that Temple worship and Temple sacrifices will soon be no more.
Lord Jesus we ask you for the gift of faith, that long-lasting true sense of your presence in the midst of all difficulties. Amen