Mark 11:20

As they passed by early in the morning, they noticed that the fig-tree was withered up from the roots.

look around
centers do not hold
withered from the center out
we’re half-way gone
only a vine is left

drink up me hearties
don’t look at past sustenance
or the future
of cows and bees
we have only today

I told you
and told you yet again
people fishing
is not a seasonal sport
be hospitable always

Mark has made it clear that there was no reason for Jesus, or anyone else, to “curse” a fig tree for not bearing figs in season. Swanson148 comes to the logical conclusion, “Apparently it IS the season for unreasonable actions by Jesus.”

The violence of the withering of the fig tree finds its counterpoint in the healing of a Geresene and the destruction of 2,000 pigs. There is the violence of language when Jesus calls a Syrophoenician woman a “dog”. Early on Jesus healed a leper and there was violence in sending him away with strict orders. When demons showed up they were dealt with as violently as they had violently taken residence in someone. We can also find violence in the way Jesus weakens Sabbath observance and refused to acknowledge his own mother.

Remembering that the fig tree is an ancient symbol of Rome as well as Israel—Jesus is not just doing in a tree, but the Roman occupiers as well as Israel and the Temple at its center. We might cast our own minds back through the renewal movements that have opened us to a next stage of life or that moves a whole culture along. These are not “natural” but “now—in season or out”.

Deborah Frieze has a TED-Talk, “How I Became a Localist”, in which she says our usual ways of trying to change the world not only don’t work, but will never work. Her analysis is “You can’t fundamentally change big systems. You can only abandon them and start over or offer hospice to what’s dying.” There is no way around a starting over being seen as a violent response by the current status quo.

We are not dealing with a meek and mild Jesus, but one present in Jerusalem to participate in a new start that follows after suffering and death. Abandon the false hope of incremental progress.

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