He went over to see if he could find anything on it. 

What’s with the fig tree anyway? Here Mark is building up to the climax of his Gospel (Mark 11:11-26): Jesus’ passion, and he interrupts it with a fig tree—not once, but twice! Why would he do that?

Take a look at where these two fig tree stories are: Mark uses them to bracket his account of Jesus cleansing the Temple. He says that Jesus was heading for the Temple when he went up to the fig tree to look for fruit. Finding it barren, he cursed it and then entered the Temple. Becoming angry at the state of the house of the Lord, he drove out the money changers who were corrupting it. Then on his way home, he passed by the fig tree, which had withered. Mark is telling us that the fig tree represents the Temple: Jesus found no spiritual fruit in the Temple, and so he cursed it as well.

These examples of Jesus’ anger can be frightening. But remember the bigger picture: left to our own devices, we humans cannot bear fruit. It is as the prophet Isaiah said, “We have all withered like leaves, and our crimes carry us away like the wind” (64:5). But just as Jesus entered the Temple, God has entered our story to set things right. He didn’t abandon his people; instead, he gave his life for us. So yes, Jesus cursed the fruitless fig tree, but he replaced it with another tree, the cross. And that tree, planted in our hearts, has the power to bear “fruit that will remain” (John 15:16).

You are not a withered, fruitless tree, and Jesus is not angry with you! By your baptism you have his own divine life in you, and that life is capable of producing abundant, lasting fruit. No doubt you have already seen some of this fruit—perhaps in healed wounds, reconciled friendships, or growth in virtue. But Jesus is not done with you. He still wants you to bear even more fruit. And he can help you, just as long as you stay close to him and try to follow his ways.

“Lord, Jesus, come into my life more deeply today so that I can bear fruit for you.”

Sirach 44:1, 9-13
Psalm 149:1-6, 9
Mark 11:11-26


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