Wednesday of Week 12 of Ordinary Time – Gospel

Commentary on Matthew 7:15-20

Today’s reading continues from the Sermon on the Mount and contains a warning which must have been very relevant in the early Church, but has not lost its meaning in our own day.

Sadly, there are ‘prophets’ who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. On the outside, they seem to have the image of Jesus, his gentleness and love, but in fact they are religious predators, using people for their own ends. There have been unfortunate examples of this in some so-called ‘televangelists’ who, in the name of the Lord Jesus, ripped off countless numbers of trusting people, many of them elderly and not well-off, by making them pledge large sums of money they could not afford.

How can you recognise them? By their “fruits”, by the way they behave and not just by what they say or the claims they make. It is not that difficult to separate the genuine from the false. As Jesus says, it is not possible for a bad tree to consistently produce good fruit nor for a genuinely good tree to produce bad fruit. Very often we have to admit that we try to make a good impression on people and we often try to hide from others what we believe to be our weaknesses.

Integrity and transparency are precious qualities to be found in any person and they are not easy to achieve. Most of us wear masks of some kind. Yet people can often identify more easily with a person whose faults are admitted. They feel that they are dealing with the real person and not a phoney. This can apply very much to pastors and other religious leaders.

Jesus is calling on us today to be really genuine people. Take care of the inside and the outside will take care of itself.

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