GENESIS 15: 1 – 12, 17 – 18
In those days: It happened that the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Elieze of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring; and a slave born in my house will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; your own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look towards heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness. And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a she-goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” And he brought him all these, cut them in two, and laid each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away. As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram; and behold, a dread and great darkness fell upon him. When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river of Euphrates.”
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 105: 1 – 2, 3 – 4, 6 – 7, 8 – 9 (R.) 8a
R/. The Lord remembers his covenant forever.
Give thanks to the Lord; proclaim his name.
Make known his deeds among the peoples.
O sing to him, sing his praise;
tell all his wonderful works! R/.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts that seek the Lord rejoice.
Turn to the Lord and his strength;
constantly seek his face. R/.
O children of Abraham, his servant,
O descendants of the Jacob he chose,
he, the Lord, is our God;
his judgements are in all the earth. R/.
He remembers his covenant forever:
the promise he ordained for a thousand generations,
the covenant he made with Abraham,
the oath he swore to Isaac. R/.
John 15: 4a,5b
Abide in me, and I in you, says the Lord; he who abides in me bears much fruit.
“You will know then by their fruits.”
MATTHEW 7: 15 – 20
At that time: Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: Good Fruit—Bad Fruit
June 28, 2023
“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.” (Matthew 7:16–17)
“So by their fruits you will know them.” This is how our Gospel passage for today concludes. It offers us an exceptionally practical way by which you can discern the working of God in your own life and in the life of others.
When you look at your own life, what good fruit, born for the upbuilding of the Kingdom of God, do you see? Some people may find little to no fruit born, either for good or bad. Such complacency is, in and of itself, bad fruit. Other people may see an abundance of fruit, thus producing many consequences in this world. They influence the lives of many, and their public actions make a true difference. Sometimes for good…and other times for evil.
When discerning the actions of God in our world, we must first be very objective. The evil one is always very deceptive and regularly presents his bad fruit as good. For example, the legalization of abortion is often presented by many within our world as a “right to choose” or a “health service.” But the intentional death of any unborn child is clearly “bad fruit” from a “rotten tree.” There are even many so-called “humanitarian groups” or very wealthy “philanthropists” who present their work as “good fruit,” when it is anything but good. And on the contrary, there are many who work hard to bring forth a greater respect for life from the moment of conception to natural death, or strive to uphold the sacredness of marriage as God designed it, or work to promote the freedom to worship in accord with the will of God, but are labeled by the secular world as prejudiced, bigoted, fearmongers and even hateful. But their work, done very sacrificially, truly does bear good fruit for the Kingdom of God.
How about your own life? When you examine your actions and the fruit born of those actions, from where does that fruit originate? Does it come from a false sense of compassion, a misguided “charity,” and a fear of being criticized for standing for the truth? Or does it come from a deep love of God, an awareness of the truth God has revealed to us, and through a courageous proclamation of the pure Gospel?
Good fruit, born from the heart of the Father in Heaven, will always mirror the truths of our faith. A false sense of compassion, false accusations, persecutions and the like will flow from the rotten trees in our world. We must work diligently to be those good trees that bear the good fruit coming from God. This requires a radical commitment to do what is right in the face of the evil all around us.
Reflect, today, upon these images Jesus presents. Do you see clearly both the good and bad fruit around you? Is your life helping to foster the lies of the evil one or the truth and love of God? Look at the fruit your life bears, as well as the fruit within our world, in an objective way, comparing it to the clear and unambiguous teachings of Jesus. Seek out that good fruit with all your heart and do all you can to bring it forth, no matter the cost, and you will not only save your soul, you will also help feed others with the good fruit of Heaven.
My Lord of all truthfulness, You and You alone define the good and evil in our world. Your truth reveals the good fruit that is born to nourish the growth of Your glorious Kingdom. Give me courage and clarity of mind and heart so that I may continually do all that You call me to do so as to bring the good fruit of the Kingdom to all in need. Jesus, I trust in You.