Memory of Jesus crucified

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This is the Gospel of the poor,
liberation for the imprisoned,
sight for the blind,
freedom for the oppressed.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 11, 11-26

He entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple; and when he had surveyed it all, as it was late by now, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

Next day as they were leaving Bethany, he felt hungry.

Seeing a fig tree in leaf some distance away, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it, but when he came up to it he found nothing but leaves; for it was not the season for figs.

And he addressed the fig tree, 'May no one ever eat fruit from you again.' And his disciples heard him say this.

So they reached Jerusalem and he went into the Temple and began driving out the men selling and buying there; he upset the tables of the money changers and the seats of the dove sellers.

Nor would he allow anyone to carry anything through the Temple.

And he taught them and said, 'Does not scripture say: My house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples? But you have turned it into a bandits' den.'

This came to the ears of the chief priests and the scribes, and they tried to find some way of doing away with him; they were afraid of him because the people were carried away by his teaching.

And when evening came he went out of the city.

Next morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered to the roots.

Peter remembered. 'Look, Rabbi,' he said to Jesus, 'the fig tree that you cursed has withered away.'

Jesus answered, 'Have faith in God.

In truth I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, "Be pulled up and thrown into the sea," with no doubt in his heart, but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

I tell you, therefore, everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours.

And when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you have against anybody, soyour Father in heaven may forgive your failings too.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Son of Man came to serve,
whoever wants to be great
should become servant of all.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

When the day of his entrance into Jerusalem as Messiah had ended, Jesus returned to Bethany, probably to the house of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. These are the most difficult days of his life, and he needs a friendly house to rest in, even if he has to preach in the city of Jerusalem. The next morning he returns to the city. And as he is going down to Jerusalem, he begins to feel hungry. There is a leafy fig tree growing alongside the road. Jesus approaches it, but does not find any fruit. He curses it, and the fig tree withers. It is not an act of spite, but of symbolism. It is true that Jesus was hungry, but for love, not for bread, as is shown in other parts of the Gospel. He was thirsty, but for affection, not for water, as on the cross. If we are barren of love, if we are not generous with affection, or if we are not available to those who are in need - that is, if we are leafy like that fig tree, but without fruit - we will be useless to ourselves and to others. After reaching Jerusalem, Jesus goes directly to the temple, the heart of the holy city, as if to take possession of it. Once there, Jesus begins to "drive out those who were selling and those who were buying." It is not just a moralizing gesture meant to put an end to abuses and regularize the life of the temple. Jesus’ actions are much more radical. He "drives out" from the temple, from the community, and from the heart, the sort of religion based merely on external rituals that feed on false and grasping relationships and that relates to God and to brothers and sisters as if in a market where relationships are based on buying and selling instead of the gratuitousness of love. The temple is a house of prayer; it is the place for a direct relationship with God; it is the place where the children gather and are welcomed by the Father. Jesus himself is the true temple, a house open to all men and women, even foreigners, accessible to "all the peoples" of the earth. His house is the kingdom of love and forgiveness and of fraternity and peace. Above all, it is the kingdom of gratuitousness, where people do not live and act with the expectation of getting something back from others. The Lord invites us to a gratuitous love that has no reservations and does not demand reciprocity as a condition.