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strong relish for the Blessed Eucharist? or a strong hunger and thirst for graces ? or for the conversion of our neighbour ? Has not our Lady said : The hungry He hath filled with good things : but the rich—the contented, the satisfied, those who have had their fill of this earth's good thingsHe hath sent empty away ?
“ Have mercy on me, O Lord, according to Thy great mercy, that I may crave less for the good things of the earth, and much more for Thee.”
L. How easy it is to win graces for ourselves and others by sharing a little of our Saviour's weariness, by waiting for a little while before we give ourselves the rest we long for; or by not allowing ourselves the most comfortable positions! There are devils which cannot be driven out except by prayer and fasting, that is, prayer and penance.
M. It will cheer us and strengthen us if we remember that as we deny ourselves comforts and share our Lord's hunger and thirst and weariness, a better hunger and thirst and love for Him will always be growing, and will make us forget our bodily privations.
“O most loving Heart of Jesus, if I had long ago listened to Thy voice, and denied my senses, Thou wouldst not be obliged to say to me now, So long a time am I with you, and have you not known Me?” (St. John xiv.).
And when He had seen afar off a fig-tree having leaves, He
came if perhaps He might find anything on it. And when
Why did He come ? Did He not know that there was not a fig on that tree? Ecclesiasticus answers, under the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit: The eyes of the Lord are far brighter than the sun, beholding the bottom of the deep. For all things were known to the Lord, before they were created : so also after they were perfected He beholdeth all things (Ecclus. xxiii.). Every fig that grows must be helped to ( grow by Him. Well, therefore, He knows that there are none for Him on that tree.
Then wherefore does He come ? It is only one more instance of the method used by the Divine Wisdom of teaching through parables and types and figures. When Isaac is bound on the altar, he is a type of something to come. Judith's victory over Holophernes is an image of the Blessed among women who was to crush the serpent's head. The stormy sea of Galilee is a picture of the Church's history.
our Lord now walks some distance to reach the fruitless fig-tree, merely to bring home to us vividly what He is continually doing when He comes to our souls in the hope of being comforted and refreshed by finding some good fruit. His people are the fig-tree, Jerusalem is the fig-tree, each one created to His image and redeemed by His Sacred Blood is the fig-tree. Our poor souls are each His fig-tree.
B. It was not the time for figs. And yet He comes as if He were merely a hungry man hoping against hope. For so He continually visits our souls, in spite of a long and sad experience, hoping against hope that He may at last find some fruit.
First, as He explains in His parables, He sends messengers, then lastly He comes Himself.
He comes, and is disappointed again and again, and He makes this meek expostulation : Yet I planted thee a chosen vineyard, all true seed. How then art thou turned unto Me into that which is good for nothing, 0 strange vineyard ? (Jerem. ii.).
C. And answering He said to it : May no man eat of thee any more for ever. And the disciples heard it.
And answering. For the tree may be supposed to say to Him, “ I have no fruit for Thee”.
Commentators observe that our Lord is often said to answer when no one has spoken to Him. He is either answering some secret thought in the mind of His hearers, or, as in this instance, what the circumstances seem to say.
D. May no man eat any more of thee.
The tree clearly deserved no curse. It had leaves, because it was the time of the year for leaves. It had no fruit, because it was not the time for fruit. But our Blessed Saviour, hungry though He be, is not really occupied in His mind with His hunger or with the fig. tree. He is addressing Himself to man, His own image, for whom the tree stands as a proxy
He is specially speaking to His chosen
chosen people, the Jews then, now ourselves.
A little time before, He had spoken another parable concerning a fig-tree which bore no fruit. The disappointed owner said to
to the dresser of the vineyard : Behold, for these three years I come seeking fruit on this figtree, and I find none. Cut it down, therefore : why cumbereth it the ground? But he answering said: Lord, let it alone this year also, until I dig about it, and dung it. And if happily it bear fruit: but if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down (St. Luke xiii.). The zealous Apostles on earth, the blessed Saints in Heaven, the loving Angel Guardian, and, above all, the Mother of God and men, are all interceding for the unprofitable servant, for the barren tree. And our Blessed Lord, Who is a gracious and merciful God, patient, and of much compassion, and easy to forgive evil (Jonas iv.), most gladly hears the intercession, and waits, and waits, and waits again.
E. But now His disciples are listening, and He wishes them to understand that the time is at hand when His people will pronounce the curse on themselves, and He, most unwillingly and with infinite sorrow of Heart, will
be compelled to ratify their suicidal sentence, and say: “ Amen, be it done to you according to your fixed and wicked word”.
O Lord Jesus, gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil return (to us) and forgive; and leave a blessing behind (Joel ii.).
JERUSALEM AND THE TEMPLE.
And they came to Jerusalem. And Jesus went into the
Temple of God (St. Mark xi. ; St. Matt. xxi.). Contemplate our Blessed Saviour with a large party of His disciples around Him, among whom, probably, our Blessed Lady is walking. It is still very early when they come round the base of the Mount of Olives, and walk up northward along the valley of Josaphat, and then crossing the bridge over the torrent of Cedron, climb the steep pathway up the slope of Mount Moriah to arrive at the Temple. Beyond what happened at the fig-tree, we have no record of any discourse made by our Saviour during the walk of two miles from Bethany. Perchance He was teaching His disciples, both present and to come, to love very much a reverential silence in the early morning, as they wend their way to the House of God and the Altar of Sacrifice. 1
“ Blessed Mother of God, our Morning Star, and all ye holy disciples of the Lord, pray for us that we may love to reverence and hallow and sanctify the holy hour of the Morning Sacrifice.”
STATION II. And when He was entered into the Temple, He began to cast
out them that sold and bought in the Temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the chairs of them that sold doves. And He suffered not that any man should carry a vessel through the Temple (St. Mark xi.).
1 In religious houses the time from the end of Night Prayers to the end of Mass next morning is called the time of the Great Silence.
A. Very early in His Public Life, at the first Pasch at which He assisted, our Saviour visited the Temple and cleansed it of all these abuses. When He had made as it were a scourge of little cords, He drove them all out of the Temple, the sheep also and the oxen ; and the money of the changers He poured out, and the tables He overthrew. And to them that sold doves He said : Take these things hence ; and make not the house of My Father a house of traffic (St. John ii.). And His disciples remembered that it was written: The zeal of Thy house hath eaten Me up (Psalm lxviii). Holy writers observe that on the first occasion He was more gentle with those who sold doves to the poor than to the moneychangers and owners of oxen and sheep who dealt with the rich. Now at the end of His life He deals severely with all. He overthrew also the chairs of those who sold doves; for they now deserved severity, as they had not heeded His former correction.
B. The seal of Thy house hath eaten Me up. Contemplate the zeal of our Saviour ; His earnestness, His fearless boldness in maintaining the honour of His Father.
Zeal is a virtue specially odious to the luxurious and self-indulgent men and women of the world, to those of whom Sophonias speaks : The men settled on their lees; the men who wish to enjoy present good things and not to be disturbed. Ecclesiasticus describes such a one as the man that hath peace in his possessions; that is at rest; whose ways are prosperous in all things, and that is yet able to take meat (Ecclus. xli.), that is, to enjoy life. Zeal is a troublesome and odious virtue to such men. It censures them, and it sets a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother (St. Matt. x.). To all Catholics who are ambitious to serve two masters, that is, to stand well with the Protestant world and also with God, zeal is a most un