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 thorn bushes, 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.” — from the Gospel of Matthew
I was looking at Facebook yesterday, and I saw that a friend I have known since high school (but never very well) asked, “Is Mercury in retrograde?”
My first thought was not just Mercury, but Oldsmobile as well. But as I looked at the eight-or-so comments, I realized she was talking about astrology, and she took it very seriously. And so did the people who had answered her question. Really, that was the first time in my life I have ever encountered astrology as anything more than a joke, and it set me to thinking.
Interesting that today’s reading would be about false prophets in sheep’s clothing. We live in a world with many false prophets; many trees that bear bad fruit and seek to have us chasing after false ends and fleeting rewards. Many – from the astrologers to the leading economic indicators – would have us believe they can tell us the future and offer us comfort in uncertain times.
With all of these rotten trees and their bad fruit, it is so very comforting to be called to Christ and to put our faith in the one sure path to a certain future. We Christians know how the story ends, and it ends as it began: in Jesus Christ.
Our Lord tells us “by their fruits you will know them.” Those who seek to lead us lead us either to Christ or away from Christ. And we must be wise, and move always toward Christ.