DAILY GOSPEL COMMENTARY: “Beware of false prophets” (Mt 7:15-20).
Gospel of Wednesday
12th week in Ordinary Time
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.”
Gospel Commentary from the Navarre Bible, Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthew (with permission)
- 15-20 There are many references in the Old Testament to false prophets; perhaps the best-known passage is Jer 23:9-40 which condemns the impiety of those prophets who “prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray”; “who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes; they speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord…. I did not send the prophets, yet they ran. I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied”; they “lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them; so that they do not profit this people at all.”
- In the life of the Church the Fathers see these false prophets, as of whom Jesus speaks, in heretics, who apparently are pious and reformist but who in fact do not have Christ’s sentiments (cf. St Jerome, Comm in Matth., 7).
- St John Chrysostom applies this teaching to anyone who appears to be virtuous but in fact is not, and thereby misleads others.
- How are false prophets and genuine prophets to be distinguished? By the fruit they produce.
- Human nobility and divine inspiration combine to give the things of God a savour of their own. A person who truly speaks the things of God sows faith, hope, charity, peace and understanding; whereas a false prophet in the Church of God, in his preaching and behaviour, sows division, hatred, resentment, pride and sensuality (cf. Gal 5:16-25).
- However, the main characteristic of a false prophet is that he separates the people of God from the Magisterium of the Church, through which Christ’s teaching is declared to the world. Our Lord also indicates that these deceivers are destined to eternal perdition.
VIDEO REFLECTION TOPIC: DO YOU BEAR GOOD OR BAD FRUIT FROM YOUR HEART?
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus’ words “By their fruits, you will know them” does not just refer to trees, but to us, his followers. When we follow His teachings, we are considered as good trees. Jesus warns us against people who can come to us in sheep’s clothing but are really ravenous wolves. They can be very deceiving and cunning. The fruits though of their intent are easily exposed when you put them in a stressful environment, when their Christian values are tested.
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