The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew
Lesson I Chapter 21: 10ff
At that time : When Jesus was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, and that which followeth …
A Homily by Saint Bede the Priest.What the Lord first shewed forth in a figure by cursing the barren fig tree, he afterwards put before us in action even more plainly by casting the profaners out of the temple. [It is the peculiarity of fig tree that its fruit is well developed before there is any sign of leaves.] The tree was not guilty because of her fruitlessness at this time when the Lord was hungry, for the time of figs was not yet come. But those priests were guilty because they carried on worldly business in the Lord’s house, and thereby neglected to bring forth that fruit of godliness which was due, and which the Lord was hungry to find in them. The Lord made the fig tree to wither away under his curse, that all men who saw it, and all men who hear of it, might know that they will be condemned by the judgement of God, if they content themselves with the sound of good words, without the solid fruit of good works, after the fashion of that barren fig tree which gave pleasant shade and the rustle of green leaves, without the solid fruit, of which those leaves were wont to be an evidence.
But because the buyers and sellers heeded not the parable of the barren fig tree, the Lord visited them with the righteous indignation which they deserved, and cast out the traffickers in earthly things from that house. For it had been commanded that nothing should be done therein save the work of God, to wit, the offering to him of sacrifices and prayers, and the reading, teaching, and singing of his Word. Yet we may well believe that nothing was sold or bought in the temple save things needful to the service thereof , as we read in another place, that when Jesus went into the temple he found them that sold oxen and sheep and doves. For we are certainly given to understand that it was the worshippers from afar who, from the inhabitants of the place, bought such things as were needful for sacrifice in the Lord’s house.
Collect:Turn thou us, O God our Saviour : and that this our Lenten fast may be profitable unto us, vouchsafe, we pray thee, to instruct our minds in all heavenly learning, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.