Bear Good Fruit
Very interesting gospel story today and certainly timely with all of the noise associated with the Presidential election, the tragedy in Orlando, the never ending debates about who and what Democrats are, as well as who and what Republicans are. According to society there are many different decision points to identify you as a good person or not. It can all be very confusing – if you let it. The gospel today (Mt 7:15-20) gives us clear direction in my view:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,
and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down
and thrown into the fire.
So by their fruits you will know them.”
Jesus warns us that there are many “false prophets” out there focused on giving your their view or direction which may be misguided. As Catholic Christians we are to be open to God and love like God, yet we are constantly reminded that this person or that person is a racist, homophobe, islamaphobe, terrorist, etc. We have so many labels in this society so it is hard to clearly understand who is and who is not necessarily a good person. There are too many people that focus on the bad things people say and do, and in general look at people negatively. I find that those that are followers of Jesus, tend to find the good in most people. How do we know? Jesus answers that question for us when he says:
“By their fruits you will know them”
Jesus is telling us to look at each others lives – not for the purpose of judging that person, that ultimately is Jesus’ job. We see people and are inspired by and/or follow people “by the fruits they produce”. Many people who live good and faith-filled lives tend to live under the radar and live their lives quietly fulfilling God’s purpose for them. Their fruits may be a happy home where the family grows together in faith, or by their actions you can see their love for God poured out to others. What are the fruits they are producing for God and seeing this, we should look at our own lives and make adjustments where we may not be fulfilling our part in bringing Jesus to others. Words and labels can be very harmful and at times have impacted people for their entire lifetime. Let’s recognize the good that people do and compliment them for it. Learn from their behaviors to help model our own, and try to be the examples that we as followers of Christ are charged to be. In a hate-filled and blame-oriented society let’s take the high road and look at the positives in others. Many people follow these “false prophets” because they may not be open enough to God’s word and God needs us as his disciples to live that word to help bring those that are misguided to the real priest, prophet, and king – Jesus.