On the following day, when they came from Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “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 when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.
In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 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.
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:12-25
Holy Week has begun. Despite the joy of our celebration of entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, this week we face death before there are more celebrations. Sometimes it is hard to stay in the passion of Holy Week, to hold on the the harshness of the story, especially when surrounded by family. We have our granddaughter with us, and a four year old is pure energy and expression. We're sad only when we have to take a nap or when the rules don't allow certain things. And yet, here we are on the verge of the hardest days of our faith story.
Jesus curses a fig tree, although the fig tree did nothing except be out of season. Maybe Jesus just wanted to pick one more ripe fig before the pain he faced. Maybe Jesus wanted to curse everything and everyone because what was ahead was so unfair. Being human made him as fragile and angry as we can be. And being human also made him able to demonstrate the amazing capacity of prayer and forgiveness. He showed them, even days before his death, the intimacy of relationship that God seeks for all of us. The fig tree bore his anger so that we could see limitless possibility.
Today I ask God to help me dwell in the challenges of this week. The possibilities and the sorrow, and the depth of human cruelty. And may we live each day in thanksgiving for God's desire for all of us.