Gospel text (Mt 7,15-20):
Jesus said to his disciples, «Beware of false prophets: they come to you in sheep's clothing but inside they are wild wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Do you ever pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree always produces good fruit, a rotten tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit and a rotten tree cannot bear good fruit. Any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire. So you will know them by their fruit».
I would invite my leaders simply look this gospel in a different way. Jesus says that every good tree give good fruit. In our limitedness and sinfulness, we should believe in us, particularly the goodness that God has shared with us. By simply believing that we are good, we will slowly and progressively advance by our repeated good deeds towards the status of a virtuous person.
It is important to be aware of our being that forcing a new identity in us by our doing. This inner self should be revealed by our acts. Indirectly Jesus is asking each and every one of to be ourselves (children of God) and produce the fruits, and certainly our fruits will be good, because by our ‘being’ we participate in the good of God.
«You will know them by their fruit»
+ Fr. Antoni ORIOL i Tataret
(Vic, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, a new evangelic contrast opens up before our eyes, the one between the good tree and the bad one. The avowals of Jesus are so simple they look almost simplistic. But we can affirm that they are certainly not! They are not simplistic, as real life is not simplistic either.
This one teaches us good trees can degenerate and end up by bearing bad fruits while, on the other hand, there may be rotten trees ending up by bearing good fruits. So what does that actually mean? Perhaps, that «every good tree bears good fruit» (Mt 7:17)? No, it means that the good one is good as long as he does not stop doing good. That he does good and he does not get tired of it. He does good and he does not give up before the temptation to do evil. He does good and perseveres in heroism. He does good, and if by any chance, he yields to the weariness of doing it, falls before the temptation of doing evil, or gets scared before the non-negotiable postulate, he sincerely and truly admits it, heartily repents and... restarts all over again.
Ah! And he also does it, amongst other reasons, because he is conscious that if the tree does not bear a good fruit, it will be cut down and thrown into the fire (the fear of God keeps the true vine of the vineyard!). And because, by being aware of the goodness of others through their good deeds, he knows, not only through personal experience, but through social experiences too, that he can be recognized as good not because of his good words but through his good deeds only.
It is not enough to say: «Lord, Lord!». As St. James reminds us, faith is shown through our works!: «Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works» (Jm 2:18).