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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (2Kgs 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: 118
R/. 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.

Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart.

Lead me in the path of your commands, for in it I delight.

Incline my heart to your decrees and not to gain.

Turn away my eyes from seeing what is vain: by your way give me life.

Behold, I long for your precepts; in your justice give me life.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 15:4.5): Alleluia. Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord; whoever remains in me will bear much fruit. Alleluia.
Gospel text (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.”

"By their fruits you will know them"

+ 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 rotten tree. 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 deteriorate 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 “every good tree bears good fruit” (Mt 7:17) mean? It means that the good one is good as long as he does not stop doing good things. That he does good things 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 till heroism. He does good and if by any chance he yields to the weariness of acting like this, of falling before the temptation of doing evil, of getting scared before the non-negotiable demand, 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 also because, by being aware through personal and social experience of the goodness of others through their good deeds, he knows that he can be recognized as a good person not only because of his good words but through his facts.

It is not enough to say: “Lord, Lord!” Faith is shown through our works! As St. James wrote: “Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works” (Jm 2:18).

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “We need to be pure in heart to see Jesus in the person of the spiritually poorest. Therefore, the more disfigured the image of God is in that person, the greater will be our faith and devotion in seeking Jesus’ face.” (Saint Teresa of Calcuta)

  • “We receive [from the Spirit] a new way of being, the life of Christ becomes our own: we are able to think like Him, to act like Him, to see the world and the things in it with the eyes of Jesus.” (Francis)

  • “When he comes at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, the glorious Christ will reveal the secret disposition of hearts and will render to each man according to his works, and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nº 682)