Meditation: Why did Jesus curse a fig tree? Fig trees were
a common and important source of food for the Jews. Bad figs or a
decaying fig tree was linked with evil deeds and spiritual decay.
The unfruitful fig tree symbolized the outcome of Israel's
unresponsiveness to the word of God. The prophets depicted the
languishing fig tree as signifying the desolation and calamity of
Israel due to her unfaithfulness to God (see Joel 1:7,12; Habakuk
3:17; and Jeremiah 8:13).
Faith must be nourished by the word of God
The history of Israel is one long preparation for the coming of the Promised One - the Messiah. But the promise is unfulfilled in those who reject Jesus through their unbelief. (See also Jesus' parable of the barren fig tree in Luke 13:6-9). Jesus' cursing of a fig tree is a prophetic action against the faithlessness of those who rejected his message. For faith to be fruitful and productive, it must be nourished with the word of God (2 Timothy 3:16; Colossians 3:16) and be rooted in love and obedience to the truth (Galatians 5:6,7)..
Jesus purifies his people to make them holy
Jesus' cleansing of the temple was another prophetic action. In this incident we see Jesus' startling and swift action in cleansing the temple of those who were using it to exploit the worshipers of God. The money changers took advantage of the poor and forced them to pay many times more than was right - in the house of God no less! Their robbery of the poor was not only dishonoring to God but unjust toward their neighbor. In justification for his audacious action Jesus quotes from the prophets Isaiah (56:7) and Jeremiah (7:11). His act of judgment aims to purify the worship of God's people and to discipline their erring ways.
Pray with expectant faith in God's power and mercy
After this incident Jesus exhorts his disciples to "have faith in God." They are to pray with expectant faith for God's will to be accomplished - no matter how difficult or challenging the situation may appear. The phrase "to remove mountains" was a common Jewish expression for removing difficulties. A wise teacher who could solve difficulties was called a "mountain remover." If we pray with expectant faith God will give us the means to overcome difficulties and obstacles that stand in the way of accomplishing his will for our lives. If we want God to hear our prayers we must forgive those who wrong us as God has forgiven us. Do you pray with expectant faith?
"Lord Jesus, increase my faith and make my fruitful and effective in serving you and bringing you honor and glory in all that I do. Help me to be merciful and forgiving towards others just as you have been merciful and forgiving towards me."
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://www.rc.net/wcc/readings/