“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.
“So by their fruits you will know them.” Jesus’ analogy to his disciples in this seventh chapter of Matthew was probably very familiar to the people in this agricultural society. Jesus invites us, here, to reflect on the words and actions of others, as well as our own. Jesus seems to be warning us against false prophets, and perhaps also inviting us to examine the fruit we are bearing.
How can we tell true prophets? How can we identify those who may be hypocrites? St. Ignatius writes that “love ought to show itself in deeds, rather than words.” Our words and intentions are important, but our actions are really the “fruit” of our interior life.
Is there an area where God is inviting me to examine and realign in my own life and actions? Who are true prophets in my life, who exemplify “good fruit,” that I seek to emulate?
Lord, help us to find prophets in our own lives who bear “good fruit” through their actions. May we know them, may we emulate them, and may we ourselves be prophets to others.
—The Jesuit Prayer team