Matthew 7: 15-20
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/ ).
“By their fruits you will know them.”
Here Our Lord gives us a truly amazing teaching about discernment. It is a common enough phrase now, but deservedly so. We want to avoid being overly suspicious of those we meet, those who perhaps have some sort of message for us, and there is certainly no shortage of messengers out there today. But without being paranoid, we must take Jesus’ teaching seriously. It is within our ability, thanks to the Holy Spirit’s presence in our hearts, to prudently discern who and which messages we should listen to and accept, and which we must reject.
Yet it is often difficult, since invariably there is a mixture of good and evil in the concrete circumstances of life. How can we tell the true nature, or, to add to Christ’s metaphor, the quality of the roots, which go deep beneath the surface? And so Jesus gives us the sure guide: look for the fruits. Part of our daily examen could be, when necessary, to examine those messages or messengers which might be false prophets, wolves dressed in sheepskins. It might become apparent quickly, or it may take steady observation and prayer over time. In either case, who can say how much we would benefit from removing these thorns from our side?
—Mr. Timothy Kieras, S.J
Lord, so often we tell ourselves or we tell others “to pray on it” when decisions await an answer. Do we realize the commitment we make when we use those words? Saint Ignatius so perfectly expresses our prayer as we discern God’s will.
Grant, O Lord, that my heart may neither desire nor seek anything but what is necessary for the fulfillment of Thy holy Will. May health or sickness, riches or poverty, honors or contempt, humiliations, leave my soul in that state of perfect detachment to which I desire to attain for Thy greater honor and Thy greater glory. Amen.
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