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BE A GOOD FAMILY PERSON

Father Francis's picture
Eighth Week of Ordinary Time

1 Peter 4:7-13 & Mk. 11:11-26

There is a saying that 'Blood is thicker than water' which means family ties should be more solid than other relationships. But one relationship is even more solid - the relationship we enter by means of Baptism when we enter God's family. We become children of God and brothers and sisters to each other.

St. Peter in the first reading encourages each one of us to be a good family person. Above all we must be loving people for love covers a multitude of sins. He tells us that the ideal family virtues are harmony, mutual help and thoughtfulness. All these virtues add up to love which makes everyone happy to be at home. No family is perfect, of course, not even the family of the Church for it is made up of imperfect people. Nonetheless, Jesus, Who gave His life so that we might become children of His Father, expects that our lives will bear much fruit unlike the fig tree in the Gospel reading.

Jesus is the perfect family man. We must never forget the full extent of His love, His death for us, which we celebrate in every Mass. His example should motivate us to try to live together in harmony by being a truly thoughtful and helpful person. Jesus is more than a model. He comes to us in Holy Communion so that if our hearts are open we will become more and more like Him, filled with love, which is the summit of all the family virtues.

Jesus seemed pretty merciless when He cursed the fig tree because it was not even the season for figs! He could have enabled the tree to produce fruit but instead He destroyed it. Jesus never worked a miracle for Himself, so we know it was not a punishment for not satisfying His hunger. There is a powerful and encouraging message here. Every day, whatever the season, Jesus looks to see whether we are bearing fruit for His kingdom.

This event immediately precedes His entering the Temple at Jerusalem where He expects to find people "busy about His Father's affairs" (Lk. 2:49) but, instead, they are occupied in worldly activity, and often fraudulent and unjust activity at that. The fruits of honesty and uprightness that Jesus expects to find are simply not there so in a sense the fig tree symbolises the empty piety that Jesus encountered in the temple. He entered this holy place looking for spiritual fruit: love, worship, and obedience. Instead, He found money changers who had transformed the house of the Lord into a "den of robbers" and was overcome with justified annoyance. He evicted the irreligious and their irregularities to establish a holy atmosphere in which He could teach the people.

These two dramatic episodes challenge us to examine our own lives. Are we like the fig tree - filled with great potential to bear fruit for the Lord, but still barren and unproductive? The promise of the Gospel is that, no matter what season of life we may be in, we can bear fruit, not by working harder or sacrificing more, but by allowing the indwelling Holy Spirit to strengthen and comfort us with His presence. With Christ in us we can do amazing things when we surrender our hearts to Him and let Him work through us.

Every day, let us ask Jesus to clear our hearts of all wrongful influence so that the Holy Spirit can bring His life to us. As we trust in the Spirit’s power and not in our limited capabilities - in both the large and small situations that we face - we can have confidence that He will care for our needs and that our lives will bear fruit for God's glory.

Lord Jesus, praise be to You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit Who works to mould us into Your image, so that our lives bear fruit for Your kingdom.

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