Scripture: Lectionary for Friday, March 4: # 351. Sirach 44:1.9-13. Psalm
149:1-2.3-22.214.171.124. Mark 11:11-26
Our passage for today from Mark, the first Evangelist, is so jam-packed.
This requires a second or third reading to see how to pray and apply the
lessons given within the pericope. Several themes are pushed together
within it and we see the “sandwich technique” of Mark within the narrative.
Mark starts us off with one story then on the way or the unravelling of it
he puts another incident or story within it. Here we have the action
parable or miracle of Jesus cursing the fig tree. Or did he really do this
as a curse? Some scholars think it is more of a lesson for those rejecting
the Good News Jesus brings to us both in his time and in the time of Mark’s
designated audiences or churches.
There is also a strong theme close to the Our Father or the Lord’s Prayer.
Remember only Matthew and Luke have the Lord’s Prayer as such; Mark and
John have its contents spread throughout their Gospels. Today the ending in
Mark is evidently close to the petition of forgiveness in the Our Father.
Most of us are disturbed about the “cursing” of the fig tree. Jesus does
something that he forbids us to do. So how do we handle this in Mark’s
account. One way is to read what Luke apparently says as a parallel to it
where no miracle occurs nor is it a curse. Luke 13:6-9 is a good way of
following this incident as Jesus is about to cleanse the temple in
Jerusalem which will hasten his crucifixion. Something more devastating
than the fig tree’s plight. We need always to see the bigger picture when
reading the Gospels. Scholars are baffled by this and say it is only a
parable; others say it is a miracle. T. Manson notes that the final clause
in verse 13 of Mark chapter 11 fixes the event in such a way that it seems
not to make sense. Bishop another English scholar believes the fig tree
will bear fruit on Good Friday.
As we ponder over the literal sense of the text, we realize we need for our
own way of adjusting to the striking incident to do some pondering over on
a spiritual level to help the text bear fruit. Many like the fig tree will
not be willing to bear the fruit of Jesus crucifixion nor of his preaching
the Good News. We as believers need to be shocked into a deeper faith at
times. This pericope certainly does that. Amen.