In today’s Gospel the Lord puts us on guard against prophets who seem innocuous, even helpful, but actually have ulterior motives, none of them good. Travelers have lamented getting sick on seemingly delicious wild berries and mushrooms, only to find out that they’re poisonous. It takes knowledge to test a prophet and to avoid disaster. We all know that actions speak louder than words, and it is through actions that we can evaluate whether someone is being good or evil.
This is complicated today by a society that can be very “gray” when it comes to determining moral values. Sometimes saying someone is “bad” is really watering down the fact that their actions are evil. The ancient Greek philosophers formulated a simple moral principle: do good and avoid evil. That bears the test of time: a prophet who does evil is a false prophet, because a true prophet comes from the Lord, who’d never order evil.
All Christians are prophetic to the degree that they give witness to truth and good in their lives. Let’s all take stock today of the fruits of our actions so that we are true prophets and known to be so by our good actions.
Readings: Genesis 15:1–12, 17–18; Psalm 105:1–4, 6–9; Matthew 7:15–20. See also 23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday.