Known by Fruit, 12th Wednesday (II), June 22, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Chapel of the Das Werk Sisters, Immaculate Conception Convent, Manhattan
Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II
Memorial of SS. John Fisher and Thomas More
June 22, 2016
2 Kings 22:8-13.23:1-3, Ps 119, Mt 7:15-20

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today Jesus continues his concluding remarks in the Sermon on the Mount by stressing two points: first, the need to beware of false prophets; and second, the principle of discernment between true and false prophets is the fruit each bears.
  • Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has been contrasting his teaching with that of the Scribes and Pharisees, the virtuous pagans, and even the provisional, preparatory teachings of the Old Testament. From the Beatitudes onward, he was showing a different standard, his own standard, which he was encouraging us and helping us to adopt: whereas everyone else will encourage us to be rich, jovial, merciless, sexually “fulfilled,” satiated, and liked by all, Jesus stresses that the path to happiness, his own path, is to be poor in spirit, mournful, merciful pure in heart, hungry for holiness, and persecuted and hated because of him. He told us yesterday that many are on the broad road leading to perdition and few have found the narrow road leading to life. For that reason, he tells us to beware of those who preach, by words and actions, the anti-Beatitudes, who seek to draw people on the broad, easy, popular path.
  • He tells us that the way that we can distinguish between true and false prophets — since every roving prophet dressed with a sheepskin mantle and looked alike and at first glance sounded alike — is to examine the fruit they produce up close. Jesus talks about two images: thornbushes that produce tiny toxic fruit that at first glance looks like grapes and thistles that from a distance produce something resembling a fig. We need to get beyond first appearances to see what the fruit of good, healthy and spiritually life-giving or toxic. At a deeper level, he’s calling all of us at the end of the Sermon on the Mount to attach ourselves through his teaching to him who is the Vine so that, as we sang in the Alleluia versicle, we might bear great fruit.
  • Today we celebrate two saints who bore fruit even out of season, who remained attached to the Vine in the midst of storms, who were true prophets in an age in which false prophets abounded, Saints John Fisher and Thomas More. During a time in which every other bishop in England except him behaved as false prophets taking oaths that were both schismatic and apostatic, sending Henry was the head of the Church in England and that his adulterous second bond was a true marriage, John remained true to Christ; at a time when so many of Thomas More’s lay contemporaries and others likewise betrayed the Lord, he refused, even though it meant the loss of his property, his high position in the realm, his freedom and ultimately his life. We prayed at the beginning of Mass through their intercession that “we may confirm by the witness of our life the faith we profess with our lips,” that we may truly be attached to the Vine who is Christ and through our deeds bear good fruit.
  • As the Church in the United States begins today the Fortnight for Freedom, Jesus’ words are highly relevant, because there are many false prophets today, encouraging us to go along with the spirit of the age and betray Christ, who preach the broad road to perdition, the anti-Beatitudes, who try to water down not only the teachings of Christ but our duty in conscience to follow them. We find them in politics, in education, in culture and occasionally in Roman collars and abandoned religious habits. Jesus urges us to observe their fruit and examine it under the light of the Gospel. He also wants us to bear the type of fruit that can nourish the people of our age when religious freedom itself is being challenged here and in so many ways across the globe.
  • The way we remain attached to the Vine is by entering anew into Communion with the Vine incarnate each morning. The way we receive the vision to examine whether someone claiming to speak and work for God is by hearing his Word and evaluating everything on the basis of it. Today we come forward seeking to renew the “new and eternal Covenant” just like Hilkiah, Shaphan and the Jews renewed the Covenant in today’s first reading. We come to ask the Lord to teach us the ways of his decrees so that we might exactly observe them and keep them with all our heart as we prayed in the Psalms. Today we ask him for the faith, courage and help to be in our own day what Thomas and John were in theirs, so that, like them, our lives may continue to bear “fruit that will last” into eternity.

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 2 KGS 22:8-13; 23:1-3

The high priest Hilkiah informed the scribe Shaphan,
“I have found the book of the law in the temple of the LORD.”
Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, who read it.
Then the scribe Shaphan went to the king and reported,
“Your servants have smelted down the metals available in the temple
and have consigned them to the master workmen
in the temple of the LORD.”
The scribe Shaphan also informed the king
that the priest Hilkiah had given him a book,
and then read it aloud to the king.
When the king heard the contents of the book of the law,
he tore his garments and issued this command to Hilkiah the priest,
Ahikam, son of Shaphan,
Achbor, son of Micaiah, the scribe Shaphan,
and the king’s servant Asaiah:
“Go, consult the LORD for me, for the people, for all Judah,
about the stipulations of this book that has been found,
for the anger of the LORD has been set furiously ablaze against us,
because our fathers did not obey the stipulations of this book,
nor fulfill our written obligations.”The king then had all the elders of Judah
and of Jerusalem summoned together before him.
The king went up to the temple of the LORD with all the men of Judah
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem:
priests, prophets, and all the people, small and great.
He had the entire contents of the book of the covenant
that had been found in the temple of the LORD, read out to them.
Standing by the column, the king made a covenant before the LORD
that they would follow him
and observe his ordinances, statutes and decrees
with their whole hearts and souls,
thus reviving the terms of the covenant
which were written in this book.
And all the people stood as participants in the covenant.

Responsorial Psalm PS 119:33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 40

R. (33a) Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Instruct me, O LORD, in the way of your statutes,
that I may exactly observe them.
R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Give me discernment, that I may observe your law
and keep it with all my heart.
R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Lead me in the path of your commands,
for in it I delight.
R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Incline my heart to your decrees
and not to gain.
R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Turn away my eyes from seeing what is vain:
by your way give me life.
R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.
Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your justice give me life.
R. Teach me the way of your decrees, O Lord.

Alleluia JN 15:4A, 5B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord;
whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 7:15-20

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.”

 

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