By Their Fruits You Shall Know Them

Homily for Wednesday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time

I have always lived in the city, different cities in five different states. As is the case with most city dwellers, I am used to the fact that city lights tend to make it more difficult to see the stars at night. Having said that, I do remember one occasion when I was visiting a retreat house that was in a very rural area and how brightly the stars shined in the night sky during my stay there. Perhaps that is why I find today’s reading from the Book of Genesis so interesting. God points to the stars and tells Abram that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars. Then God literally “cut a covenant” with Abram, a covenant in which Abram placed his faith.

In the Gospel for today, Jesus counsels us to be wary of false prophets, those who are not trustworthy. He holds up for us a principle whereby we can judge a person’s trustworthiness; namely, by their fruits you shall know them. The same principle works in determining whether God is trustworthy. God has always been faithful. The proof is in the many ways in which God has blessed us.

In our own day and age, it may seem difficult to discern who and what to trust. Our own experience of scandal within the clergy makes this even more evident. Indeed, Jesus’ counsel seems to be all the more relevant for us in the 21st century. “By their fruits you shall know them.”

Not that long ago, there was a popular question being asked by many pundits; namely, “If someone accused you of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” The question is really just another way of reiterating Jesus’ statement.

As we gather to celebrate the Eucharist today, we remember God’s faithfulness and pledge our own, faithful to the baptismal promises that we have renewed time and again, to be people of faith, people whose actions mirror those of our faithful God.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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