The Gospel according to Mark (Mark 11:11-26)
Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple area. He looked around at everything and, since it was already late, went out to Bethany with the Twelve. The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry. Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs. And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!” And his disciples heard it. They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area. Then he taught them saying, “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 chief priests and the scribes came to hear of it and were seeking a way to put him to death, yet they feared him because the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching. When evening came, they went out of the city. Early in the morning, as they were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered to its roots. Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus said to them in reply, “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. 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.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I thank you for all the mighty and wondrous things you have done for me as well as for every answered and unanswered prayer. Out of your love for me, you continue to help me to grow in my relationship with you. Give me the wisdom to know what to ask of you and the courage to yield to your will because I know that your will is the best for me.
Encountering Christ: I had to laugh a little when reading through this gospel. The part about where Jesus cursed the fig tree. I thought about that for a while and compared it to how I manage to kill plants just by how I care for them! I don’t curse them but they die. Many have told me I don’t have a green thumb – How true that is!!!!
So all kidding aside, there are a couple of things significant for us to look at today. We just finished the Easter Season with the celebration of Pentecost and now we are back into “Ordinary Time” in the church cycle.
Our lives are anything but ordinary really. We are called into service for God everyday as we awake from a nights rest, and we are to be that beacon of light for others who maybe don’t see God as we do. Question is…. How bright is our light??
I want to focus on one important part of the gospel today and that is about FAITH and FORGIVENESS. We have to be a people that are faith-filled and part of that process involves forgiveness. Forgiveness not only of others – but for ourselves too. When we fail God we need to find forgiveness – and that is readily available to us in the great sacrament of reconciliation. When we reconcile to God we begin to see our own need to share that gift of forgiveness – and the way we do that is by our forgiving others. Jesus tells us plainly in this gospel that in order to be forgiven we have to forgive others. Great opportunity to learn the lesson that forgiveness is rooted in LOVE.
Part of our daily prayer should include asking Jesus for the strength to forgive others around us – just as he did when he forgave those that crucified him. Think about that one for a minute or two! If Jesus was able to demonstrate that kind of love and ultimately forgive them for their actions – how simple it should be for us to forgive that neighbor who always parks in front of the house where the trash cans go on trash day right???
Life change folks! That is what we are called to do in our lives…. Ask God for the ability to make a real life change. It will free you and cause you to be more grounded in Jesus AND at the end of the day you will find yourself loving YOU more! Give it a try!
Oh! By the way, next time you go to Home Depot or Lowes and see someone in the return line with a dead plant that they are returning….display a smile and remember that it is a great reminder that Jesus is always waiting for us to give us another opportunity to plant goodness in our lives and flower LOVE to make our world smile and become a better place. We all end up in the return line at some point!
Closing Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for always accompanying me in my joys and sufferings. Lord Jesus, I believe that you can take away my pain, my wounds, and my un-forgiveness towards those who have wronged me. Soften my heart and let your love grow in it so I, too, can love those around me without expecting anything in return.
Action for the Day: Lord, today by your grace I will pray for a friend who needs comfort and peace. I will think of someone I need to forgive and try and forgive them.