Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
“Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles,” Christ asks His disciples. I grew up on a farm in Tennessee where we raised and trained horses. If there is a point in the universe most conducive to growing thistles, that point may well be Fayetteville, Tennessee. Every summer about this time, the thistles would spring up and soon look like they were taking over. A thistle is, basically, an eight-or-so-foot-tall dandelion in a suit of spiked amour. They grow just as fast, spread just as rapidly, and are even harder to get rid of than a dandelion. And, unlike dandelions, the young leaves do not taste good in salads. Many things can – and have – been said of the thistle. Most of those things are not repeatable here. But of one thing I can assure you: they do not grow figs.
Our Lord is warning us of false prophets: those who would lead us astray… take us farther away from Christ instead of closer to Him. He is warning us of those “who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.” People who misrepresent the Scriptures and our holy Tradition… these are the wolves against which Christ warns us. We have them in abundance today; they can be found on television channels, on websites, and in comboxes. These are the people who twist the teachings of the Lord to fit their own end.
Of course, as Catholics we should look first to authentically Catholic teachers. We should also look second to authentically Catholic teachers. The Catholic Tradition begins with Christ. It comes to us through the Apostles and across the long span of years by being handed down to the bishops, each of whom is a successor to the Apostles. It is guarded by the Holy Spirit. It is shepherded by the Pope, the successor to Peter. It begins with God and contains all that we need to know regarding our own salvation.
People will sometimes ask me if I have read this book or that book by a prominent Protestant pastor, and what I think of it. I haven’t. There are about ten million really good Catholic books. I’m not even halfway through the list yet. I cannot bring myself to look outside my beloved Catholic tradition; there are too many wolves prowling out there who would love to lead me astray from the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I prefer to remain with the true Shepherds of God’s Holy People; I prefer to remain firmly within the Catholic tradition, where the good trees bear good fruit.