From: Mark 11:11-25
The Messiah Enters Jerusalem (Continuation)
The Barren Fig Tree. The Expulsion of the Money-Changers
 And they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began
to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and He
overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who
sold pigeons;  and He would not allow any one to carry anything
through the temple.  And He taught, and said 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 den of robbers.”  And the chief
priests and the scribes heard it and sought a way to destroy Him; for
they feared Him, because all the multitude was astonished at His
teaching.  And when evening came they went out of the city.
 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered
away to its roots.  And Peter remembered and said to Him, “Master,
look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered.”  And Jesus
answered them, “Have faith in God.  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 will come to
pass, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you
ask in prayer, believe that you receive it, and you will.  And
whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any
one; so that your Father also who is in Heaven may forgive you your
12. Jesus’ hunger is another sign of His being truly human. When we
contemplate Jesus we should feel Him very close to us; He is true God
and true man. His experience of hunger shows that He understands us
perfectly: He has shared our needs and limitations. “How generous our
Lord is in humbling Himself and fully accepting His human condition!
He does not use His divine power to escape from difficulties or
effort. Let’s pray that He will teach us to be tough, to love work, to
appreciate the human and divine nobility of savoring the consequences
of self-giving” ([St] J. Escriva, “Christ Is Passing By”, 161).
13-14. Jesus, of course, knew that it was not the right time for figs;
therefore, He was not looking for figs to eat. His action must have a
deeper meaning. The Fathers of the Church, whose interpretation St.
Bede reflects in his commentary on this passage, tells us that the
miracle has an allegorical purpose: Jesus had come among His own
people, the Jews, hungry to find fruit of holiness and good works, but
all He found were external practices—leaves without fruit. Similarly,
when He enters the temple, He upbraids those present for turning the
temple of God, which is a house of prayer (prayer is the fruit of
piety), into a place of commerce (mere leaves). “So you”, St. Bede
concludes, “if you do not want to be condemned by Christ, should guard
against being a barren tree, by offering to Jesus, who made Himself
poor, the fruit of piety which He expects of you” (”In Marci Evangelium
Expositio, in loc.”).
God wants both fruit and foliage; when, because the right intention is
missing, there are only leaves, only appearances, we must suspect that
there is nothing but purely human action, with no supernatural
depth—behavior which results from ambition, pride and a desire to
“We have to work a lot on this earth and we must do our work well,
since it is our daily task that we have to sanctify. But let us never
forget to do everything for God’s sake. If were to do it ourselves,
out of pride, we could produce nothing but leaves, and no matter how
luxuriant they were, neither God nor our fellow man would find any good
in them” ([St] J. Escriva, “Friends of God”, 202).
15-18. Our Lord does not abide lack of faith or piety in things to do
with the worship of God. If He acts so vigorously to defend the temple
of the Old Law, it indicates how we should truly conduct ourselves in
the Christian temple, where He is really and truly present in the
Blessed Eucharist. “Piety has its own good manners. Learn them. It’s
a shame to see those `pious’ people who don’t know how to attend
Mass—even though they go daily,—nor how to bless themselves (they
throw their hands about in the wierdest fashion), nor how to bend the
knee before the Tabernacle (their ridiculous genuflections seem a
mockery), nor how to bow their heads reverently before a picture of our
Lady” ([St] J. Escriva, “The Way”, 541). Cf. note on Matthew 21:12-13.
20-25. Jesus speaks to us here about the power of prayer. For prayer
to be effective, absolute faith and trust are required: “A keen and
living faith. Like Peter’s. When you have it—our Lord has said
so—you will move mountains, the humanly insuperable obstacles that
rise up against your apostolic undertakings” ([St] J. Escriva, “The Way”,
For prayer to be effective, we also need to love our neighbor,
forgiving him everything: if we do, then God our Father will also
forgive us. Since we are all sinners we need to admit the fact before
God and ask His pardon (cf. Luke 18:9-14). When Christ taught us to
pray He required that we have these predispositions (cf. Matthew 6:12;
also Matthew 5:23 and notes on same). Here is how Theophylact
(”Ennaratio in Evangelium Marci, in loc.”) puts it: “When you pray, if
you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father who
is in Heaven may forgive you [...]. He who believes with great
affection raises his whole heart to God and, in David’s words, opens
his soul to God. If he expands his heart before God in this way, he
becomes one with Him, and his burning heart is surer of obtaining what
Even when he is in the state of sin, man should seek God out in prayer;
Jesus places no limitations at all: “Whatever you ask...” Therefore,
our personal unworthiness should not be an excuse for not praying
confidently to God. Nor should the fact that God already knows our
needs be an excuse for not turning to Him. St. Teresa explains this
when she prays: “O my God, can it be better to keep silent about my
necessities, hoping that Thou wilt relieve them? No, indeed, for Thou,
my Lord and my Joy, knowing how many they must be and how it will
alleviate them if we speak to Thee of them, dost bid us pray to Thee
and say that Thou will not fail to give” (St. Teresa, “Exclamations”,
5). Cf. notes on Matthew 6:5-6 and Matthew 7:7-11.
26. As the RSV note points out, many ancient manuscripts add a v. 26:
but it is clearly an addition, taken straight from Matthew 6:15. This
addition was included by the editors of the Old Vulgate.
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.
|First reading||Ecclesiasticus 44:1 - 13 ©|
|Next let us praise illustrious men,
our ancestors in their successive generations.
Some have left no memory,
and disappeared as though they had not existed,
they are now as though they had never been,
and so too, their children after them.
But here is a list of generous men
whose good works have not been forgotten.
In their descendants there remains
a rich inheritance born of them.
Their descendants stand by the covenants
and, thanks to them, so do their childrens children.
Their offspring will last for ever,
their glory will not fade.
|Psalm or canticle: Psalm 149|
|Gospel||Mark 11:11 - 26 ©|
|Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple. He looked all round him, but as it was now late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Next day as they were leaving Bethany, he felt hungry. Seeing a fig tree in leaf some distance away, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it, but when he came up to it he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season for figs. And he addressed the fig tree. May no one ever eat fruit from you again he said. And his disciples heard him say this.
So they reached Jerusalem and he went into the Temple and began driving out those who were selling and buying there; he upset the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those who were selling pigeons. Nor would he allow anyone to carry anything through the Temple. And he taught them and said, Does not scripture say: My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples? But you have turned it into a robbers den. This came to the ears of the chief priests and the scribes, and they tried to find some way of doing away with him; they were afraid of him because the people were carried away by his teaching. And when evening came he went out of the city.
Next morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered to the roots. Peter remembered. Look, Rabbi, he said to Jesus the fig tree you cursed has withered away. Jesus answered, Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, Get up and throw yourself into the sea, with no hesitation in his heart but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. I tell you therefore: everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours. And when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, so that your Father in heaven may forgive your failings too. But if you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive your failings either.