Read Ecclesiasticus 44:1,9-13, Ps. 149:1-6,9, Mark 11:11-26

“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25)

Given that it was not the season for figs, what crime did this fig tree commit to deserve such a curse from Jesus Christ? The tree was attractive from a distance, but upon close examination, it was useless. Despite the leaves, no figs were developing on it. Like this tree, many Christians are externally attractive but empty within. We are more concerned about maintaining a positive image than doing what God desires.

This is called hypocrisy or what some have termed “packaging”. Hypocrisy is living a lie. It is making everyone believe you are good when you are not. Like the temple that appeared good externally but had become an extension of the market, a den of robbers, the fig tree was full of leaves but lacked figs.

Like the traders in the temple, many Christians today are in Church not to worship God but to worship money. Imagine the disappointment you feel when you meet a minister of God, thinking they would draw you closer to God, only to discover they are only interested in your pocket. This is the disappointment Jesus felt when he approached the fig tree and found no fruit.

Jesus cursed the tree because it had lost the purpose of its existence. It was now suitable for firewood. As Jesus would say: “If salt has lost its taste, of what good is it anymore other than to be thrown down and trodden underfoot by men?” (Cf. Matthew 5:13, Luke 14:34). When we fail to let our light shine and are only concerned about putting up appearances, we become like tasteless salt.

Unlike the fig tree, Jesus did not curse the temple; instead, he restored its original purpose by driving out those buying, selling, and scattering their tables. If we must bear fruits, we must constantly look inwards and cleanse ourselves of those things within us that God hates. At the end of each day, take some moments to examine your conscience and find out if there are things to be thrown away or built upon.

The disciples of Jesus were surprised the following day to see the fig tree withered. They didn’t expect Jesus’ words to come to pass so quickly. Instead, Jesus used the occasion to teach some secrets of effective prayer, which include:

1. Strong Faith. One common obstacle to prayer is doubt. Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and *if you do not doubt in your heart*, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, *believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”* (Mark 11:23-24)

2. Forgiveness. The inability to forgive others is another obstacle to prayers. Jesus said: “Whenever your stand praying, forgive. If you have anything against anyone, so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you.”

Let us pray: Almighty Ever-Living God, free me from hypocrisy. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Friday of week 8 in Ordinary Time, Martyrs, Bible Study: Ecclesiasticus 44:1,9-13, Ps. 149:1-6,9, Mark 11:11-26)

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu