May 29, 2015
Friday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Sirach 44:1, 9-13
Gospel: Mark 11:11-25
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple. And after he had looked all around, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
The next day, when they were leaving Bethany, he felt hungry. In the distance he noticed a fig tree covered with leaves, so he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. Then Jesus said to the fig tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit!” And his disciples heard these words.
When they reached Jerusalem, Jesus went to the Temple and began to drive away all the people he saw buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the stools of those who sold pigeons. And he would not let anyone carry anything through the Temple area.
Jesus then taught the people, “Does not God say in the Scriptures: My house will be called a House of Prayer for all the nations? But you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
The chief priests and the teachers of the Law heard of this, and they tried to find a way to destroy him. They were afraid of him because all the people were captivated in his teaching.
When evening came, Jesus left the city.
Early next morning, as they walked along the road, the disciples saw the fig tree withered to its roots. Peter then said to him, “Master, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered.”
And Jesus replied, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, if you say to this mountain: ‘Get up and throw yourself into the sea,’ and have no doubt in your heart but believe that what you say will happen, it will be done for you. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it shall be done for you. And when you stand to pray, forgive whatever you may hold against anyone, so that your heavenly Father may also forgive your sins.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
The juxtaposition of the cleansing of the Temple with the story of the barren fig tree is instructive of how Jesus saw Temple worship in those days. Like the fig tree that produced so much leaves but remiss in producing fruits, Temple worship had to be cleansed because it was becoming more of a show (so much leaves to show) than a tool to deepen relationship with Yahweh.
Today the same must be done to our life of worship. In the same way that all those green leaves are necessary to a tree for photosynthesis, rituals are also necessary to direct our worship towards a fruitful moment with the Lord. But people can be ritualistic. They observe minutest details at the expense of charity. How do we know if we are already ritualistic? We become so when our act of worship leaves us empty instead of drawing us closer to God. – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM., MAPM. (firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://www.frdan.org).
Prayer for the day: God our Father, send us the fire of your Spirit so that every act of worship we celebrate as a community may draw us closer to you. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
SAINT OF THE DAY: Richard Thirkeld, Martyr. He was born in England and was educated in Oxford before he was called to the priesthood at a very late age. He completed his studies for the priesthood in France. After ordination he performed his priestly duties around the York area in England. His visit of a prisoner at night time aroused suspicion and his admission that he was a priest led to his arrest and later his imprisonment. He was tried for having heard confession and he was condemned to die, but he still ministered to the other prisoners before their execution. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered but it was done in secret because he was greatly venerated by the people. He was martyred in 1583 and beatified in 1886.