Daily Reflection April 13th, 2020

Daily Reflection April 13th, 2020


“Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”

“So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:11-17, Holy Monday Matins)

Fr John’s Reflection

This short selection from the Matins gospel reading assigned for today succinctly highlights one of the major themes the Church brings to our attention as we journey through Passion Week. Each day, we will hear selections from the final days of the ministry of our Lord, as He traverses back and forth from Bethany to Jerusalem. Today, during those travels, He was hungry. And stopping at a fig tree to get something to eat, He found nothing and cursed the tree. There are all sorts of messages for us in this encounter. First, the Jews always considered the fig tree a symbol of wisdom, and a fruit tree must bear fruit to be useful. So His encounter with a tree that bore no fruit (and thereby no wisdom) is an allegory for the barrenness of the Jews — both in wisdom (they knew not Christ) and fruit (their “works” were selfish and prideful). So the curse is the warning from the Lord that anyone who spends their life in vain and prideful pursuits, knowing the things of the world but not of God, and bearing no fruit in their works by ignoring the least of the brethren and spending each day “feathering my own nest” so to speak, will suffer the same curse.

The curse itself, what one might consider a “minor” miracle of Christ, is nonetheless one more proof that He has power over life and death by His word alone. He is the Living Word in this world, and the encounter between Him and anything (or anyone) of His creation is frightful and awesome because any creature that stands in front of the Creator without the humility of knowing He is a consuming fire is doomed. But note that Christ counterbalances the fate of the fig tree with the conversation with His disciples about faith, giving hope.

Each word that we hear this week in the assigned gospel readings is not just the historical remembrance of those days (reading the “diary” or “travelogue” of Jesus, so to speak), but a narrative of the final challenges Jesus makes to the leaders of the Jews. Those challenges both condemn those “leaders” and seal the Crucifixion. But they also remind us that everything to come was voluntary — done for our salvation. May we bear much good fruit and have a “good defense” before the dread Judgement Seat of Christ! Glory to God!

Spend the rest of this week following the services as best you can, and read the prescribed readings at oca.org. For the services we cannot have at St. Paul’s, you can see the services of Metropolitan Tikhon at St. Tikhon’s Monastery (live or at your convenience) at: