The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

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8th Week in Ordinary Time

Date: 
Fri, 05/29/2015
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

There is something very curious about today’s gospel passage (Mk 11:11-26).
I don’t understand why and I can’t explain why Jesus curses a fig tree.
In my research I could not find anyone with a plausible explanation.
It doesn’t make much sense.
It seems rather irrational and destructive.
Jesus should have known that figs were not in season at the time.
In his hunger maybe he was just grumpy, I don’t know.
The fig tree surely belonged to someone who now had one less source of food.
It is also puzzling that Jesus encourages his disciples to pray for forgiveness
and yet he doesn’t “forgive” this fig tree for its lack of fruit.
 
In the Old Testament there are references about plants and fruits.
In Isaiah, the people are confronted about their unfaithfulness.
The prophet tells them “you shall become like a plant whose leaves whither,
like a garden that has no water.”
The prophet Amos reminds the people that is was God
who destroyed their enemy, the Amorites,
by “destroying their fruit above and their roots beneath.”
The prophet Jeremiah sees the wickedness and rebelliousness of the Israelites.
The people cling to deception and refuse to turn back.
They speak what is not true.
They have no regrets for their wrongdoing.
They have acted shamefully and have done abominable things.
Because of all these things, “there are not figs on the fig trees, and the foliage is withered.”
 
These Old Testament references and prophecies have to do with life and death,
with prosperity and with hardship and suffering.
When God’s people remain faithful and acknowledge God’s reign over their lives
they experience blessing and life
When God’s people become wayward in their thinking and acting,
when they forget about their Covenant with God
and are seduced into unfaithfulness by surrounding cultures
they experience spiritual drought and spiritual famine and death.
We do believe Jesus fulfills Old Testament prophecy.
 
The disciples of Jesus observe the effects of his curse.
Where there was once life there is now death.
On another level, Jesus came to God’s people expecting fruitfulness.  He is met with rejection.
The people in Jerusalem were not ready to accept Jesus or his message about the Kingdom.
He does not curse them per se, but he does take issue with their corrupt temple practices.
And since the Temple is the center and heart of life, the Temple is where the people are rooted,
if something is wrong there, what is tainted makes its way to all parts of the community.
 
I do understand:  the life of faith, the life of belief, produces fruit that satisfies spiritual hunger.
May the Spirit of God purify us, our minds and hearts,
of all that hinders our Christian fruitfulness.