Lesson I. Kyrieeleison! God, have mercy on us! Kyrieeleison
Jesus chased the money-changers out of the Temple.
Today from the Bible and Church tradition that we know Christ went to the Temple and attacked the money changers and those who sold animals and cried in a voice heard by all “It is written, my house shall be called a house of prayer and you make it into a den of robbers” [Mt 21:12,13].
O Lord, We know We have sinned against You and your temple [and our body] through our thought and deed, sometimes knowingly and other times without knowledge. We have been indifferent to your church laws. We are sorry. It was we who struck Him and spit on Him and mocked Him through our daily sin. Have mercy on us, O Lord.
“Don’t think, O Lord, that I don’t love you. I may escape from you and still love you. And I may Sin and Still love you and I may deny you three times and still love you.” If the Lord is angry or upset with me, this will be my earnest pledge, I will not enter my house or go to my bed, I will allow no sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the Lord in my heart and my life."
Out of the depths, I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word, I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins (Psalm 130).
Lord, grant that I may despise the world and all that is in it, that I may place them at your feet, that You may walk on them as you did on the clothes they spread in the way. Lord make a new whip to cleanse my heart and your temple after I made it a noisy den.
Church Fathers on clearing the Temple
St. Ambrose of Milan, "God doesn't wish His temple to be an assembly for salespersons, but a dwelling of holiness. He is confirming that the priesthood service should not be through exploiting the religion in trade but through free and voluntary giving".
St. Cyril of Alexandria, "As the Jews were so concerned with Moses ritual through their service in the temple, they had actually promoted it not in spirit but in mere letters. The Lord then came to demolish the letter, and to set up the new spirit.
Lesson II. Kyrieeleison! God, have mercy on us! Jesus Christ cursed the fig tree.
On this day also we remember how the Lord entered to Jerusalem on Monday morning after having spent the night in Bethania. On His way to Jerusalem, He saw a leafy fig tree, but when He approached it He found no fruit and it deserved to be cursed immediately.
“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.” [Mtt. 21:18]
Fig trees are not very user-friendly. They contain an enzyme called “ficin,” which, when touched, can cause severe skin irritation. St. Augustine understood these itchy coverings to signify the “irritations of lust to which “humanity” had been reduced by sinning.” In other words, just as these leaves cause irritation to force us to scratch, they signify how the irritation of lust beckons us to sin. The fig tree is a symbol of the Jewish nation, which had the outward appearance of fruits because they had followed the letter of the law and boosts to be a blessed people. But they lacked fruits in that they didn’t abide by the Spirit of the Law; and lacks the faith, love, and holiness to accept Jesus Christ and obey His commandment. As Adam and Eve covered their sin with the fig tree, Christ rebukes the fig tree to tell us that we can no longer cover our sins with a cloak of hypocrisy. “The fig tree,” St John Chrysostom said, “with its broad leaves represents the wide road. Also, it reminds us of the sin which Adam tried to cover with its leaves”.
You cursed it, Lord, not only because it had no fruits, but it was full of broad green leaves. The leaves gave a false promise of fruits, a kind of pretense. How you hate hypocrisy, you examine the heart and tests the kidneys. This is how God rebukes a fruitless person, “ These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” [Jude 1]. You then remembered Lord, when our first parents had tried to hide their nakedness with the same leaves and cover themselves with these itchy, irritating leaves and were only covered by the work of Your hands when you made clothes of skin for him. Nothing can cover your nakedness, O my soul, except the blood of the slain Lamb. Draw near to Him, O my soul, without deception or hypocrisy so that He sanctifies you. He doesn’t see your attractive appearance that people see, but testes your heart.
Dn. Medhanie Haile