By Pamela Patnode
“Beware of false prophets.” ~ Matthew 7:15a
Today it is natural to wonder, “Who can I trust? Who can my children trust?” The daily news has a steady stream of stories of classroom teachers and school leaders who indoctrinate children against their parent’s values, church leaders who have violated trust, business leaders who have swindled others, corrupt government officials, or news outlets that twist the truth of some stories while censoring others. Is there anyone we can believe today?
This was also a concern 2,000 years ago. In today’s gospel, Jesus warns his disciples, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” This warning suggests that charlatans are not a new problem—the deceitful ones have been around for a while. So how do we protect ourselves and our loved ones from their dangerous manipulation? Jesus tells us that we will know them by their fruits.
Bearing Good Fruit
Unfortunately, the bad fruit that the “wolves” produce is not always immediately evident, contributing to people being deceived. Although we cannot control the speed at which we recognize the bad fruit in others, we can control our efforts to bear good fruit in our lives. In truth, if the wolves bear bad fruit, and the righteous bear good fruit, we might ask, “What can I do to bear good fruit?”
Interestingly, the practices that lead to bearing good fruit can also help us recognize and avoid charlatans. Bearing good fruit involves living as a disciple of Christ. To live as a disciple, we must regularly participate in the sacraments, pray daily, read and study Scripture, and serve others (as is consistent with our vocation in life).
Of course, we need to remain alert and discerning when navigating interactions online, on the phone, and in person. In addition to being vigilant, by intentionally remaining close to Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life,” we will not only bear good fruit in our own lives, but we will be better able to recognize and avoid the deceit of others.
Lord, protect me and my loved ones from all evil.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Call to Action
Review your daily prayer routine. Is it consistent? If not, commit to making daily prayer a regular practice. Also, review your news sources. Do they offer news from the Catholic lens? If not, consider adding Catholic news to your daily sources of information.
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