The traffic made me late, so I was not really prepared for my morning presentation. Then the headache started. When my friend called complaining that I had not visited in a long time, I said some words that I immediately regretted. I hurt my friend. Did Jesus regret his words to the fig tree? He was clearly having a bad day. What advice would he give us when we are having a bad day? His words at the end of today’s Gospel passage are helpful: “forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance.” Hmm, wish I would have thought of that before attacking my friend. Maybe Jesus knows we can hurt people when we are having a bad day. He certainly is telling us that our thoughts and words and our prayers have power. Power for good, but also for ill. We need to be careful how we use them!

—Fr. Tim Hipskind, S.J. is co-director of the Institute for Leadership and Service, as well as Director of Service Learning at the University of Detroit Mercy. He regularly ministers to Hispanic Catholics in the Detroit area.