First Reading: From the Book of Second Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3
Vrs8 The high priest Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the Temple of Yahweh.’ And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, who read it.
Vrs9 Shaphan the secretary went to the king, reporting furthermore to him as follows, ‘Your servants have melted down the silver which was in the Temple and have handed it over to the masters of works attached to the Temple of Yahweh.’
Vrs10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, ‘The priest Hilkiah has given me a book’; and Shaphan read it aloud in the king’s presence.
Vrs11 On hearing the words of the Book of the Law he tore his clothes.
Vrs12 Then the king gave the following order to the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s minister:
Vrs13 ‘Go and consult Yahweh on behalf of me and the people about the words of the book that has been discovered; for Yahweh’s furious wrath has been kindled against us because our ancestors disobeyed the word of Yahweh by not doing what this book says they ought to have done.’
Vrs1 The king then had all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem summoned to him,
Vrs2 and the king went up to the Temple of Yahweh with all the people of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, priests, prophets and the whole populace, high and low. In their hearing he read out the entire contents of the Book of the Covenant discovered in the Temple of Yahweh.
Vrs3 The king then, standing on the dais, bound himself by the covenant before Yahweh, to follow Yahweh, to keep his commandments, decrees and laws with all his heart and soul, and to carry out the terms of the covenant as written in this book. All the people pledged their allegiance to the covenant.
Responsorial Psalm: From Psalms 119:33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40
Vrs33 Teach me, Yahweh, the way of your will, and I will observe it.
Vrs34 Give me understanding and I will observe your Law, and keep it wholeheartedly.
Vrs35 Guide me in the way of your commandments, for my delight is there.
Vrs36 Bend my heart to your instructions, not to selfish gain.
Vrs37 Avert my eyes from pointless images, by your word give me life.
Vrs40 See how I yearn for your precepts; in your saving justice give me life.
Gospel Reading: From the Gospel Account of Saint Matthew 7:15-20
Vrs15 ‘Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves.
Vrs16 You will be able to tell them by their fruits. Can people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?
Vrs17 In the same way, a sound tree produces good fruit but a rotten tree bad fruit.
Vrs18 A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Vrs19 Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire.
Vrs20 I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits.
Theme: You will know them by their fruits
What do grapes, thorns, figs, and thistles have to teach us about the kingdom of God? The imagery used by Jesus would have been very familiar to his audience. A certain thorn bush had berries which resembled grapes. And a certain thistle had a flower, which at least from a distance, resembled the fig. Isn’t it the same today? What we “hear” might have a resemblance of the truth, but, in fact, when you inspect it closely, it’s actually false. False prophets or teachers abound today as much as they did in biblical times.
What’s the test of a true or false teacher? Jesus connects soundness with good fruit. Something is sound when it is free from defect, decay, or disease and is healthy. Good fruit is the result of sound living – living according to moral truth and upright character. The prophet Isaiah warned against the dangers of falsehood: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness (Isaiah 5:20). The fruits of falsehood produce an easy religion which takes the iron out of religion, the cross out of Christianity, and any teaching which eliminates the hard sayings of Jesus, and which push the judgments of God into the background and makes us think lightly of sin.
How do we avoid falsehood in our personal lives? By being true – true to God, his word, and his grace. And that takes character! Those who are true to God know that their strength lies not in themselves but in God who supplies what we need. The fruit of a disciple is marked by faith, hope and love, justice, prudence, fortitude and temperance. Do you seek to cultivate good fruit in your life and reject whatever produces bad fruit?
“Lord Jesus, may I bear good fruit for your sake and reject whatever will produce evil fruit. Help me grow in faith, hope, love, sound judgment, justice, courage, and self control.”