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Friday – Eighth week – OT1
Readings: Sir 44:1, 9-13; Mk 11:11-26.
1/ First Reading: RSV Sirach 44:1 Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers in their generations. 9 And there are some who have no memorial, who have perished as though they had not lived; they have become as though they had not been born, and so have their children after them. 10 But these were men of mercy, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten; 11 their prosperity will remain with their descendants, and their inheritance to their children’s children. 12 Their descendants stand by the covenants; their children also, for their sake. 13 Their posterity will continue for ever, and their glory will not be blotted out.
2/ Gospel: NAU Mark 11:11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and cameinto the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late. 12 On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. 13 Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to seeif perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening. 15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; 16 and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple. 17 And he began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations ‘? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” 18 The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and beganseeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching. 19 When evening came, they would go out of the city. 20 As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. 21 Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. 23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be grantedhim. 24 “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be grantedyou. 25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. 26 “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”
I. THEME: Let us live in a way that we might bear good fruits for God.
God creates everything in the universe for a purpose; nothing can be called as “existed by accident” or “having no purpose.” For examples, God creates grass to be eaten by cows; when cows are grown up, they become meat for people to eat or to be used for ploughing; when people are matured, they become useful for others by working or by preaching Gospel to lead people to God. Whatever or whoever doesn’t bear fruits or become useless, shall be casted outside by God to have space for others to bear fruits for Him.
Today readings help people to understand their vocation and purpose in life. In the first reading, the author of the Book of Sirach compared between the two posterities. On the one side is the posterity of an unknown person who left nothing for humankind; he passed away as though he never lives in this world and his posterity also lives a nonsense life as him. On the other side is the posterity of a righteous person; he knew how to live a life according to God’s predestination for him, his posterity also imitate him to live a good and righteous life like him, and so his posterity shall last forever. In the Gospel, Jesus was hungry and looked for some fruits from a fig tree to eat, but he found nothing. So, he cursed it and went to the temple to purify it. When they passed by the fig tree which Jesus cursed again, the fig tree withered from the roots up.
1/ Reading I: “Their posterity will continue forever, and their glory will not be blotted out.”
1.1/ The posterity of an unknown person: Each of us inherited many blessings and helps from God, our nation, ancestor, parents and people who lived before us. Our duty, after inherited all blessings and helps, is to live in a worthy way that corresponds to these gratitudes. Since we have no opportunity to directly pay our gratitudes to God and those who passed away, we must indirectly do good for the future generation which includes our brothers and sisters, children and descendants.
If we live irresponsibly, only receiving gratitudes without paying back to God and those who passed away, the young and future generation shall condemn us. Our children and descendants might turn out to be like us because they get nothing good from us. The author of Sirach describes the irresponsible person and his posterity as follows: “There are some who have no memorial, who have perished as though they had not lived; they have become as though they had not been born, and so have their children after them.”
1.2/ The posterity of a well-known person: But if we live well and responsibly, our good deeds shall never be forgotten. These deeds benefit not only us, but also leave an inheritance for our children and descendants. Wherever the leading wave goes, the following waves shall follow. If we firmly keep God’s commandments and teach our children to do so, our posterity also firmly keep them and are loyal to God. Therefore, our descendants shall remain forever and our glory shall never be faded.
2/ Gospel: Whatever God said shall be achieved.
2.1/ The meaning of two reports: “The cursed fig tree” is reported only by Matthews and Mark and is one of the passages which are difficult to explain. The reason for it is because most scholars paid attention to a detail mentioned by Mark, “for it was not the time for figs.” They question, “Why did Jesus look for figs and cursed it when it isn’t the season for figs?”
In the Gospel, Mark sometimes used the technique which is called “Intercalation or sandwiching.” The purpose of the author when using this technique is to highlight the meaning which both events aim at. For examples, in order to show that Jesus preached with authority, not like the scribes, Mark reported the miracle which Jesus expelled a demon between two passages of Jesus’ preaching (1:21-28). The miracle which Jesus healed the hemorrhage woman was put between the miracle which Jesus healed Jairus’ daughter (5:21-43) to stress that Jesus had power to heal the sick and to raise the death. Lastly, the report of John Baptist’s death was put between the event which Jesus sent out the Twelve to preach and they came back to him and report the results (6:7-30) to stress that sufferings shall be happened to the preachers of the truth.
And in today passage, the event in which Jesus purified the temple was put between two passages of the cursed fig tree. So, the important task is to find out what is the common theme of two events.
– In the event of the cursed fig tree, Jesus said, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!” This was achieved the next day when Jesus and his disciples passes the tree again. What God says shall be achieved, He didn’t concern if it is in or out of the season.
– In the event of the purification of the temple, Jesus said, “Is it not written: ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples’? But you have made it a den of thieves.” The Jerusalem temple was completely destroyed in 70 AD; and from that time, people worships God not in Jerusalem, but in spirit and in truth (Jn 4:21-24).
So, the common theme which Mark wanted to highlight is that everything which God created must bear good fruits; it not, God shall destroy or cut off so that others can take its place.
2.2/ Religion isn’t confined in ceremonies: The most important thing of religion is the faithful’s firm faith in God. Jesus stressed this point with his disciples: “Have faith in God.Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him.Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.”
Moreover, the love for God must be expressed through the love for others. Jesus taught his disciples, “When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God predestines for each of us an ultimate goal and hands to each one a mission. We should try our best to fulfill God’s given mission and to attain His predestined goal.
– If we don’t bear fruits for God and others, He shall cut us off and casts outside so others shall take our place and bear fruit for Him.
– God gives some children to those who live in the familial vocation or many faithful to those who live in the priestly vocation. We should fulfill our duty by educating them according to the divine way and leading them to Him.