March 4, 2011
Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Sirach 44: 1, 9-13
Mark 11: 11-26
For many people, the image of an “angry” Christ is impossible to imagine because there has been such a distortion and “re-invention” of the Messiah. Yet it is precisely in the pages of the Four Gospels, recorded for us by the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, that we find the real Jesus of Nazareth, as Pope Benedict XVI tells us in his book of the same name.
Jesus did certainly become angry and these instances are recorded in the New Testament. And each time, His Divine anger was provoked by a person or event which failed to meet its proper standards.
In the Gospel of Saint Mark, a portion of which we just heard, the Evangelist records two occasions when Jesus expresses His anger. The first instance is directed toward a fig tree which has failed to produce any fruit. It has, so to say, failed its “mission”, its “vocation” as a fig tree.
The second instance is more well-known to us: Christ drives the money-changers and the merchants from His Father’s House. Here, again, Jesus is responding to the serious sin of sacrilege, and injustice shown to God.
Underlying Christ’s anger is an absence of justice, the failure to give to God and to neighbor what is their due. (C.C.C. 1636). The fig tree failed to practice justice by their denying to God and to His House the proper reverence and respect due them.
May the Graces of this Holy Mass enable us to practice the Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance and, in so doing, lessen the severity of God’s Judgment.