Reflection for Friday, May 27, 2005: 8th week in Ordinary Time.

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Howard, Joan Blandin
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A challenging reading! The episode of the Jesus' 'cleansing' of the temple is situated in the midst of the narrative of the fig tree. This poor fig tree happened not to have fruit, just leaves, as Jesus was passing by. Unfortunately for the poor tree, Jesus was hungry and apparently in the mood for a fig. No figs available. "It was not time for figs." For no other apparent reason Jesus condemns the tree, "May no one ever eat of your fruit again!" Not a mumbled under-the-breath curse, but heard by the disciples. This would seem a rather rash and selfish fate for the tree _ it was not fig season after all. And, seemingly so out of character for Jesus. We are not told he was angry, but that does not seem a far-fetched assumption.||Jesus proceeds to the "temple area" where again his anger erupts; "He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves." The next day on passing by the fig tree, Peter says to Jesus, "Rabbi, Look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered." Why was Peter so surprised? He had witnessed human miracles much greater that this.|What are we to make of these two scenarios?|It appears to have something to do with invitation and expectation _ looking for something and not finding it. The fig tree has two seasons, however the leaves and the fruit do not appear at the same time as is true of other fruit bearing trees. The leaves are in fact an empty invitation to what is not to be found. The temple at that time was a recognized site of social, commercial and religious gatherings. Pilgrims, sightseers, merchants, and community faithful regularly frequented the "temple area." Even today mid-eastern temples and medieval European churches are surrounded by local merchants, souvenir hawkers, and money changers _ changing foreign for local currency. All legal and acceptable, until the poor, ignorant and defenseless are exploited.|"Is it not written: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples? But you have made it a den of thieves."|The goodnews of Jesus is found in the closing lines: "Have faith in God." Jesus says that it is faith in God, belief in God, prayer and forgiveness that will give life and freedom to all. God's invitation is pure and worthy of our earnest expectations.|We may be duped by nature and we may be duped by man, but never by God, by God! Alleluia, Alleluia!
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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