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Helping People See Themselves

Memorial of St Justin, Martyr

Scriptural Readings: 1 Peter 4:7-13; Psalm 96:10, 11-12, 13; Mark 11:11-26

My dear encountered couples:

Was Jesus having a bad day? First, he cursed the fig tree for having no figs when it wasn’t even the time of year for it to have figs. And next he goes into the temple and causes pandemonium by turning over all the tables of the money-changers and driving out everyone who was engaged in buying and selling. We might not expect such a display of temper from the Son of God who came to show us God’s love, not his wrath. And after just yesterday in our gospel we read about Jesus telling the blind man, “You have nothing to fear from me.” What’s going on here?

We need to keep reminding ourselves that Jesus was not only God. He was also a human being. Maybe he was exhausted, maybe he was hungry. The fig tree, like sometimes our refrigerators and kitchen cabinets, was empty. And even though it was not the fault of the tree or our kitchen fixtures, his humanity and ours might take it out on those poor, defenseless things.

But then maybe the actions of Jesus have a deeper meaning. Was it that he had come to find love of God and neighbor in the hearts of the Jewish people and their priests but was greatly disappointed to find so little? As the tree had leaves but no figs, the leaders had external practices of religion but little compassion.

As for the cleaning out of the temple because maybe they were using it to make money instead of what it was built for, we too must look into the reasons we pray, attend Mass, and try to lead good lives. Is it because we really love God and his people or because we want the halo of sainthood and live in one of the better neighborhoods of heaven?

So many questions, always never-ending mysteries. But that’s good. It makes us take stock of ourselves and throw out what we find unfit.


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