Day 159: Bearing Fruit
Mark 11:1-11 Jesus, who knowingly came to Jerusalem to face his suffering and Death, received a royal welcome as the Messiah. (CCC 528, 2616, 2667)
Ch 11:7 This fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah:
“Behold, your king comes to you;
Triumphant and victorious is he,
Humble and riding on a donkey,
On a colt the foal of a donkey” (Zec 9:9)
Ch 11:22-25 The story of the fig tree stresses the need to bear fruit even if it is not the season. If we have complete trust in God and do our part, our prayers will occasion great miracles in the work of evangelization. Christ also calls his followers to forgive the offenses of others as a condition for worthy and effective prayer. God our Father will forgive our own sins to the extent we forgive others. (CCC 2607, 2610, 2805)
Ch 11:17 House of prayer: The parish church, like the Temple of old, is the proper place for communal worship. It is also the place for adoration of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is also appropriate to have a place in the home that is conducive to prayer and meditation. (CCC 2691, 2696)
Ch 11:25 God forgives our own sins to the extent we forgive others. Christ called upon his followers to forgive the offenses of others before praying.
Stand praying: Jews traditionally stand when they pray as a sign of respect. (CCC 2646, 2840-2841)
Ch 11:25 Other ancient authorities add verse 26: “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
Ch 11:27-33 Christ was willing to engage people in dialogue to instruct them, but the chief priests, scribes, and elders in this passage were not looking for answers but for a way to entrap him. He put to them a question that they could not answer without revealing their malice and bad faith. Good-faith dialogue is a necessary part of the Church’s ongoing mission of evangelization. (CCC 856)
Ch 12:1-12 The Parable of the Wicked Tenants is an allegory of the history of salvation. God, as Creator, is the owner of the vineyard, and the chosen people are the tenants charged with harvesting the fruits of the earth. The servants are the prophets, whom the tenants rejected, beat, and sometimes killed. The owner finally sent his own son, who represents Christ, and he was also killed. The owner evicted the hostile tenants and found others who would do his will.
This was the Lord’s doing: Christ’s quote of Psalm 118 reveals that even the acts of humanity in rejecting Christ are part of God’s plan of redemption. The psalm was a popular chant for pilgrims coming to Jerusalem for Passover. (CCC 311-313, 324)
Ch 12:13-17 Another question set as a trap for Christ: Paying the tax to an oppressor could be seen as a betrayal of the Jewish people, while not paying the tax would incur the wrath of the Romans. Christ’s answer sets forth the proper relationship between persons of faith and the civil authority: Fulfill your obligations to the state unless they conflict with your obligations to God, who is Lord above all.
Whose likeness: Christ’s word recalls the “image and likeness’ of God imprinted on every soul (Gn 1:26). While Caesar’s likeness is on the coin, God’s own image and likeness is reflected on the human person. We pay taxes to Caesar, but we must give our VERY SELVES to God. (CCC 450, 2244-2246, 2420-2425)
Ch 12:18-27 The Levitical law stated that if a married man should die before his wife had borne him a son, the man’s brother had to marry his widow so as to have a male child and continue the family name. The hypothetical example offered by the Sadducees took this teaching to a ridiculous extreme in order to entrap Christ. On earth, marriage reflects the spousal love of Christ and his Bride, the Church. In Heaven, given the exalted love in seeing God face to face, there will be no marriage in the earthly sense of the word. (CCC 574, 1619)
Ch 12:24-27 Christ reproached the Sadducees for denying the resurrection.
He is not God of the dead, but of the living: Belief in the Resurrection of Christ is at the core of the Catholic Faith. (CCC 993)
Ch 12:28-34 A scribe presented Christ with an honest question about which commandment was the greatest. Knowing his sincerity, Christ explained how the first and Greatest Commandment, which is stated plainly in the traditional Jewish prayer Shema, summarizes all the prophetic teachings on the revealed laws of God. Abiding by this commandment includes fidelity to the rest of the commandments. (CCC 575)
Ch 12:29-31 The Holy Trinity-three divine Persons in one God-is a mystery of faith that in no way challenges the monotheism of the Jews. The Old Testament contains many prophecies and figures in preparation for the New Covenant of Christ. The Old Testament forms part of Divine Revelation and was endorsed as such by Christ who came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill and complete it. (CCC 129, 202, 228-231, 2196)
Ch 12:35-37 Christ posed the riddle of Psalm 110 as a way of stating that he is both FULLY GOD and FULLY MAN, both the Son of God (and thus the God of David) and the Son of David (and thus a direct human descendant). Previously, he reminded his listeners that they must love “the one Lord” with their whole heart, soul, mind, and strength; here he affirmed that he himself is the Lord. (CCC 202)
Ch 12:38-40 Christ criticized the hypocrisy of some of the scribes, who acted out of self-serving motives rather than a desire to give glory to God. After death, Christ will judge our thoughts, motivations, attitudes, and deeds. In light of this Particular Judgement as well as the Final Judgement at the end of time, it is important that all of our thoughts and actions are based upon the love of God and the love of neighbor. (CCC 678)
Ch 12:41-44 Christ noted that the widow with the two coins, though objectively giving a small amount, had in reality given an enormous amount since it was all that she had. The wealthier people, although giving larger amounts of money, did so from their excess without real sacrifice or the total gift of self. (CCC 2443-2446)
Psalm 67 Psalms 65-68 reflect the hope that all people might come to worship the God of Israel. Witnessing and learning of the mighty works of God show that the God of Israel is the one true God and, therefore, the source of all power and salvation. God’s blessing on Israel is reflected in the fertility of both their harvests and the Chosen People themselves, who have truly grown into a “great nation.” The Church Fathers applied the verses describing the fruitfulness of the earth to Mary, who gave birth to Christ, the Son of God. For this reason, this psalm is prayed at mass on January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. (Cf. St. John Paul II, General Audiences, October 9, 2002; November 17, 2004)
It is the will of God that everyone obtain salvation, so it is very important to pray for specific individuals as well as for people in general for the fulfillment of this intention. The existence of Heaven and Hell are clearly revealed in Sacred Scripture and in the teachings of the Church. The Church does not know how many souls are in Heaven or Hell since God is INFINITELY MERCIFUL AND JUST. (CCC 74, 1058, 2822)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
So Mark Chs 11-12 is a shift
Jesus has gotten to Jerusalem and is going to stay there through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection
Tomorrow we are going to start the conspiracy to kill Jesus, the Last Supper, Gethsemane, Peter’s denial, etc.
Today we are in the days LEADING UP to Jesus’ betrayal
Mark Ch 11 shows us that the stakes are getting higher and higher
Jesus’ teachings are becoming more and more pointed
What does this mean?
As Jesus is riding into Jerusalem on a colt and the people are saying, “Hosanna to the son of David. Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!”
Jesus enters the Temple and there is an intermediary story of Jesus cursing the fig tree the next day and then goes back to the Temple
In other Gospels it depicts Jesus going into the Temple and cleansing it RIGHT AWAY
Jesus is letting the people of Israel, the people of the Covenant, the people we have been WALKING WITH in the Old Testament, that YES, they are GOD’S PEOPLE, but have they been LIVING LIKE THEY ARE GOD’S PEOPLE?
Yes, they have been CHOSEN among ALL THE NATIONS of the world
Through them, GOD WILL BLESS THE ENTIRE WORLD
So are they LIVING LIKE THIS?
Jesus is asking for the FRUITS
And this is why we have this image of Jesus having a rough day
Jesus is hungry and goes up to a fig tree and doesn’t find any figs
It wasn’t the season for figs
Jesus curses the fig tree and says, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”
The next day, the fig tree is withered to the roots
This not just Jesus having a bad day
Jesus is teaching his disciples something very very clearly
He uses the opportunity of looking for figs on the fig tree and not finding any as a teaching moment
Jesus is teaching them that the people of Israel ARE THE FIG TREE
They are supposed to be demonstrating the FRUIT OF BELONGING TO THE ONE GOD
They are supposed to be demonstrating the FRUIT TO THE NATIONS
Everything we have been hearing about in the Old Testament up to this point is, “Ok you have been made into my people. Now BEAR FRUIT.”
We know this is the case because the very next parable Jesus tells in Mark Ch 12
The Parable of the Wicked Tenants
The Landowner plants a vineyard, builds a tower, leases it to tenants
Those tenants are the Jewish leaders
The time for harvest is here, where is the fruit?
SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!
They jewish people are not doing this
They are not handing over the fruit of the Landowner aka God Himself, from HIS VINEYARD
This is the case for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US
Jesus is pointing out to those people that, “If you belong to me that’s great.”
“The reason you belong to me is because I LOVE YOU.”
“The reason you belong to me is TO BEAR FRUIT.”
“The reason you belong to me is so that I can BLESS THE WORLD THROUGH YOU.”
“So demonstrate the FRUIT.”
This is SO SO KEY
In John’s Gospel, Jesus makes this very clear as well: “By this is the Father glorified, that you remain in me and BEAR MUCH FRUIT.”
This is the key question
Is a FRUITLESS disciple of Jesus even a real disciple of Jesus?
Where is the fruit in your lives?
The fruit can indeed be other people’s conversions
It can also be FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT
These are the FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT
If we belong to Christ, we should be able to show Him these fruits
Let’s go on another tangent…😉
This does NOT mean that we have created these fruits IN OURSELVES
They are the NATURAL or SUPERNATURAL outgrowth of a life ROOTED IN JESUS
Those are the fruits of a LIFE LIVED IN CHRIST
So when Jesus doesn’t find any figs on the fig tree, he is basically saying, “At some point, the time is going to be up.”
“At some point, the Landowner is going to return.”
“At some point you are going to look for figs on the fig tree and there NEEDS TO BE FRUIT.”
“At some point, I am going to come again and I need the FRUIT to be there.”
Back to the lecture at hand…
When Jesus cleanses the Temple, there is something POWERFUL about this
The Temple aka HIS FATHER’S HOUSE is a HOUSE OF PRAYER
When you are baptized, you are made into a TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
YOU ARE A LIVING TEMPLE WALKING AROUND
Jesus CLEANSES THE TEMPLE
So we have to allow ourselves not only to BEAR FRUIT in Jesus’ name
We have to allow ourselves TO BE CLEANSED BY JESUS
What does Jesus say?
“Is not my Father’s house? ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
So in OUR LIVES, if God has made our bodies into a Temple of the Holy Spirit that means that with our bodies and in our bodies we need to use them to GLORIFY HIM
SO MUCH SO that that is actually God’s destiny for us IN ETERNITY
Mark Ch 12 shows the Sadducees challenging Jesus on the idea of the RESURRECTION OF THE BODY
The Sadducees and Pharisees disagreed on a number of things
The Sadducees only believed in the first five books of Moses in the Bible and did not consider any other books inspired
So they had some disagreements with the Pharisees
Among those disagreements were the resurrection of the body, angels, etc.
The Sadducees pose a hypothetical question
What if a woman marries all seven brothers because that was the Law of Moses, whose wife is she in this so-called resurrection?
Jesus gives them a sick burn
“Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?”
Basically, in Heaven there is no marriage
Marriage is meant to GET YOU TO HEAVEN
Marriage is meant to be one of the ways to get you to DIE TO YOURSELF out of LOVE FOR CHRIST and LOVE FOR OTHERS that CONFORMS YOU TO CHRIST
Marriage helps you to be what St. Paul said in Ephesians Ch 5: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and laid down His life for her.”
That call to lay down our lives for our spouses PURIFIES and SANCTIFIES
There is always so much to talk about
Fr. Mike thinks we are going a mile a minute
It feels like 100 miles a minute to me and my fingers are cramping 🤯
The Widow’s Offering is about how Jesus is watching people putting large amounts of money into the treasury
This woman has two copper coins which makes up one penny
Jesus says, “This poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.”
The TITHE historically is 1/10 of one’s income
The idea behind that is that one would give the first 10% of their income
We don’t necessarily believe that as Catholics
We believe we are obliged to support the Church and the Mission of Christ to whatever degree we can
So there is no number attached to it in the Catholic Church
We are STILL ENCOURAGED to give whatever those FIRST FRUITS are
Maybe it’s 1/10
Maybe it’s more
Maybe it’s less
This widow is not giving her FIRST FRUITS
This widow is giving her FINAL FRUITS
That is the key for so many of us
Once you have mastered the recognition that your FIRST FRUITS belong to Jesus, to then experience the conviction of your FINAL FRUITS also belonging to Jesus
FROM FIRST TO THE LAST, FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE END, EVERYTHING WE HAVE BELONGS TO JESUS
Jesus praises this woman who puts in ONE PENNY, ALL THAT SHE HAD, not out of her ABUNDANCE, but out of her ABSOLUTE NEED
So when it comes to the Lord today, how can we give Him our FIRST FRUITS?
How can we give God our FINAL FRUITS?
How can we love God not just in word or speech, but also in DEED and in TRUTH?
How can we love God with our ENTIRE LIVES today?
With our FIRST FRUITS?
With our FINAL FRUITS?
We can only do this with God’s Grace because all the FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT are not fruits of the flesh
They are not fruits of our own wanting or willing or working hard to do this
These are the fruits of a life that has been CONFORMED TO JESUS and HANDED OVER TO HIM
We can only do this with GOD’S GRACE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven you have blessed us. Lord, every single day you give us the blessing of a new day. Every single day you give us the blessing of your mercy. Your mercies are new every single morning, Lord God. And you give us a new day every single morning. A new day to honor you, a new day to know you better, a new day to let you love us, and that is, Lord God, it all comes down to this. It all comes down to: will we let you love us? Will we let you be the Lord of our lives? Will we allow ourselves to reveal your image? And will we receive your inscription upon our hearts, that we love you with everything we have and everything we are and love our neighbors as ourselves? Lord God, help us first to be loved as fully as we possibly can by you. Help us to give you permission, once again, to love us this morning, to forgive us this morning, and to give us your Grace. Help us to give you the permission to claim us as yours. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”
12:25 It is the constant teaching of the Church from the first centuries that celibacy is the preferable state of living and is a superior vocation because it resembles the lives of the angels. There will be no marriage between men and women in Heaven because all will be married exclusively to God. However, on Earth, living a celibate life is not a grace which is given to all, for “not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted” (Mt. 19:11). Those who live in the married state, a beautiful sacrament in itself, live a life prefiguring the heavenly matrimony of the Church to Christ. Those who live celibate lives are already living in Heaven on Earth, being married to Christ. “Whoever can accept this ought to accept it” (Mt. 19:12).
My Study Color Code
■ Suffering, Martyrdom ■ Places ■ The Church, Sacraments, Divinity ■ Horticultural Imagery ■ People ■ Messianic Kingship ■ Sin, Death, Decay