The Gospel reading from the Mass for Friday for the 8th Week of Ordinary Time is Mark 11:11-26. 

After entering Jerusalem as a great King on Palm Sunday, Christ goes to the Temple in Jerusalem, surveying it with His powerful gaze to judge if the people are offering worthy praise; He finds the Temple corrupt as foretold 500 years earlier (Mal 3:1-2). Because it is late, Christ leads the Apostles on a two-mile walk to Bethany to spend the night (probably at Lazarus’ home).  On the return to the Temple the next morning, Christ attempts to find fruit on a fig tree, and finding none, He curses it because of its fruitlessness.   

Due to the growing number of Jewish pilgrims, it had become “big business” to provide animals and exchange foreign currency for the Temple tax; the priests and many men profited from the lucrative business, even allowing the sacrilege of buying and selling inside the Temple in the outer court. Christ’s love of His “Father’s house” was strong from an early age (Luke 2:41-52) and moved by righteous indignation, Christ, whip in hand, forcefully drives out the merchants and animals from the large outer court area (35 acres/26 football fields), rightfully calling them “robbers” (Jer 7:11). Christ condemns the corruption of Israel for failing to offer worthy prayer (Isa 56:7) and desecrating His Temple; the large crowds are “astonished” and the Jewish leaders who have profited from the corrupt Temple commerce scheme to kill Jesus but are afraid of the crowds.

On the return to Bethany, Peter observes that the fig tree has withered. Christ has mysteriously demonstrated His judgment on those who fail to bear fruit and His prophecy that the Temple will be destroyed (which comes to pass in A.D. 70). Preparing His disciples for the trials to come, Jesus exhorts them to have a strong faith, praying for God’s help and knowing that God will answer even seemingly impossible requests. He warns the disciples to approach God only after forgiving others to be certain of God’s forgiveness of the disciples sins.

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine King, Christ demands fruitfulness and with great strength and fortitude, physically cleans out the vast Temple area of stunned and angry merchants.  Divine Judge, Christ pronounces His condemnation on the corruption of Israel and, as Divine Prophet, foretells of the destruction of the Temple.  Divine Teacher, Christ instructs His disciples to have faith and pray for impossible things that He has the power to grant. With supernatural power, He causes the fig tree to wither with a word. 

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Rather than the false feminine Jesus who is often portrayed as a weak and meek “lady with a beard” who professes a false mercy, marvel at the true Christ who is manly and intimidating: He boldly professed and powerfully defended His Truth; He clears the huge outer Temple area  (35 acres) and filled with cut-throat merchants (robbers) who had much to lose (CCC 583-586).  

2) Sadly, in many parishes today, there is a Sacrilegious (CCC 2118, 2120, 2139) lack of awe and honor for Christ, who resides in the Tabernacle; casual or immodest dress, chatter before, during and after Mass, irreverent music, casual or damning (those with unconfessed mortal sin) reception of the Eucharist, etc. Renew your understanding of the need for Deep Reverence of the Eucharist (CCC 1384-1390,1415,1418, 2628) and pray for Christ to help you and all men have the zeal to show respect for and defend the honor of Christ’s Real Presence. 

3) In the cursing of the fig tree, Christ offers a real-time parable on the necessity to bear fruit and the death that comes to those who are not fruitful. Reflect on the need for Fruitfulness (CCC 736, 961, 1108, 1129, 1521, 1724, 1804, 1852, 2074, 2731) and pray for Christ to draw you to Himself and allow you to bear much fruit for the Kingdom.