JUNE 23. Ord Time. B. Wk.12 Wed. Mt. 7. 15-20
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves. You will be able to tell them by their fruits. Can people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, a sound tree produces good fruit but a rotten tree bad fruit. A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit. Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire. I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits.’
I am often amazed at how relevant the words of Christ are to the present day; - how something spoken two thousand years ago could be spoken by any Bishop or Priest today and be applicable to the needs of the modern world.
‘Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves’ can be applied not only to the values promoted by today’s world, but in many situations such as the Eucharistic Presence it could even be applied to the thinking of many of today’s Catholics.
There is much confusion today about many of the Church’s teachings with even Bishop’s watering down what Christ taught on issues such as homosexuality and birth control, but we are fortunate in that we have the Gospels and the voice of scripture which, despite their age, remain very clear.
We only have to look closely at Christ’s words today; - the false prophets will come to us “disguised as sheep”, or to put it another way; - the false prophets will attempt to make themselves out as being harmless to the Church.
This is why in the modern world the Gospels are so important as Christ’s teachings have endured throughout the centuries, and they are as relevant today as they were when he was walking among us.
In today’s reading Christ is really telling us that in the future some prophets or teachers would appear who would attempt to change the teachings of the Gospel, and they would present themselves as agents of good or harmless!
But he has also given us the criteria for determining how to identify the “false prophets”, namely by their fruit; - “a sound tree produces good fruit, while a rotten tree bad fruit!” So many of today’s false prophets are easily identified by comparing what they are advocating to the Gospel teachings.
The best example of this are the proponents who do not believe in the real presence of the Eucharist. When we go to the Gospels there is no confusion at all; - Christ’s words were “This is my body!” – “Unless you eat this food you will not have life in you”; and then; - when people responded by saying “this is a difficult saying”; - he asked his followers if they too would walk away!
And two thousand years later we find there are Catholics who do not believe in the real presence as they still see it as “a difficult saying”; - but fortunately Christ is very clear in the Gospels:
“I am the light of the world; - He who follows my teachings will have the light of life!
Gospel Acclamation Jn15:4,5
Live in me and let me live in you, says the Lord;
my branches bear much fruit.