Commentaries on Holy Week | Tuesday
The Gospel of today’s Mass ends with the announcement that the apostles will desert Jesus during the Passion. When Simon Peter, filled with presumption, tells him that I will lay down my life for you. Jesus answered, Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times.
Within a few days the prediction was fulfilled. Nevertheless, a few hours earlier, the Master had given them a clear lesson, as if preparing them for the approaching moments of darkness.
JESUS WAS HUNGRY
This was on the day after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Jesus and the apostles hurriedly left Bethany very early in the morning, perhaps without bringing any food. And, as St. Mark tells us, our Lord was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
In the evening they returned to the village. It must have been late and they didn’t notice the cursed fig tree. But the following day, Tuesday, as they were returning to Jerusalem, they all saw the tree, which before had been so leafy, now with its branches bare and dried up. Peter called Jesus’ attention to it: “Master, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.”
ONE THING: FAITH
During his public life, to perform miracles, Jesus asked for only one thing: faith. To the two blind men who asked him to cure them, he said: Do you believe that I can do this? —Yes, Lord, they answered. Then he touched their eyes saying: let it be done to you according to your faith. And their eyes were opened. The Gospels tell us that in many places he could hardly perform any miracles, because the people lacked faith.
We also must ask ourselves: How goes our faith? Do we truly believe in the word of God? Do we ask for what we need in prayer, sure that we will obtain it if it is for our good? Do we insist in our petitions as much as necessary, without discouragement?
HE THIRSTS FOR US
St. Josemaria comments on this scene from the Gospel. “Jesus approaches the fig tree. He approaches you, he approaches me. Jesus hungers, he thirsts for souls. On the Cross he cried out, Sitio!, I thirst (Jn 19:28). He thirsts for us, for our love, for our souls, and for all the souls we must bring to him, along the way of the Cross, which is the way to immortality and heavenly glory.”
He approaches the fig tree, finding nothing but leaves (Mt 21:19). What a shame. Does the same thing happen in our lives? Do we lack faith, and a vibrant humility; do we offer neither sacrifices nor deeds? The disciples marveled at the miracle, but they fail to draw profit from it. A few days later they denied their Master. Faith has to inform our whole life. “Christ lays down one condition,” St. Josemaria continues, “we must live by faith; then we will be able to move mountains. And so many things need moving… in the world, but, first of all, in our own hearts. So many obstacles placed in the way of grace! We have to have faith, therefore: faith and deeds, faith and sacrifice, faith and humility.”
Mary, through her faith, made possible the work of redemption. John Paul II notes that “at the center of this mystery, in the midst of this wonderment of faith, stands Mary…the loving Mother of the Redeemer” (Redemptoris Mater, 51). Mary constantly accompanies all men and women along the paths that lead to eternal life. The Church, writes the Pope, “sees Mary deeply rooted in humanity’s history, in man’s eternal vocation according to the providential plan which God has made for him from eternity. She sees Mary maternally present and sharing in the many complicated problems which today beset the lives of individuals, families and nations; she sees her helping the Christian people in the constant struggle between good and evil, to ensure that it ‘does not fall,’ or, if it has fallen, that it ‘rises again’” (Redemptoris Mater, 52).
Mary, our Mother: win for us, by your powerful intercession, a sincere faith, a sure hope, a burning love.
Commentaries on Holy Week were originally broadcast by the EWTN Radio Network (April 4-11, 2004). Reprinted here with permission.
Most Rev. Javier Echevarria was the second successor of St. Josemaria Escriva as head of Opus Dei from 1994-2016. He worked closely with St. Josemaria Escriva as his personal secretary from 1953 until St. Josemaria’s death in 1975. Bishop Echevarria was ordained as a priest on August 7, 1955. He was elected and appointed by John Paul II as prelate of Opus Dei on April 20, 1994. The Pope ordained him as a bishop on January 6, 1995. Bishop Echevarria died in Rome on December 12, 2016.