“The fruit of silence is prayer - the fruit of prayer is faith - the fruit of faith is love - the fruit of love is service - the fruit of service is peace.” (Mother Teresa)
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.”
Today, a new evangelic contrast opens up before our eyes, the one between the good tree and the bad one. 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.
In the Gospel today, Jesus warns us that appearances can be deceiving. We can’t just judge a book by its cover, we have to find out what’s inside. A wolf can wear a sheepskin, but that doesn’t make him a sheep. It’s a trick. He’s trying to look innocent, but he wants to eat the sheep – something a real sheep could never do. Real sheep will eat grass. A wolf in sheep clothing will eat sheep. Changing his outward appearance does not change his inner nature. He is still a wolf regardless of his appearance, and his behavior will show his true nature. Grapes come from grapevines and nowhere else. Thorn bushes cannot produce grapes. It’s not in their nature. Apples can never grow from an ivy tree. Everything has an innate nature that will show through.
Jesus also teaches us good trees can degenerate 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 that actually mean? Perhaps, that «every good tree bears good fruit» (Mt 7:17)? No, it means that the good one is good as long as he does not stop doing good. That he does good 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 in heroism. He does good, and if by any chance, he yields to the weariness of doing it, falls before the temptation of doing evil, or gets scared before the non-negotiable postulate, he sincerely and truly admits it, heartily repents and... restarts all over again.
What is the moral of our little story today? Look at actions, not appearances. Don’t trust the wolf who looks innocent in the sheepskin, but see what fruit he bears. He will prove himself to be the ravenous monster he is underneath, not the innocent sheep he appears on the surface. Only a fig tree can bear figs, you’ll only get stung by a thistle. The good people will show their goodness, and the bad cannot hide their true nature for long.
It is not enough to say: «Lord, Lord!». As St. James reminds us, faith is shown through our works!: «Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works» (Jm 2:18).