27 June, 2018. Wed. of Week 12

1st Reading: 2 Kings (22:8-13; 23:1-3)

When Deuteronomy is rediscovered in the temple, it leads to reform

The high priest Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.” When Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, he read it. Then Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workers who have oversight of the house of the Lord.” Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “The priest Hilkiah has given me a book.” Shaphan then read it aloud to the king.
When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary, and the king’s servant Asaiah, saying, “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our ancestors did not obey the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
Then the king directed that all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem should be gathered to him. The king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him went all the people of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 119)

R./: Teach me your decrees, O Lord

Instruct me, O Lord, in the way of your statutes,
that I may observe them to the end.
Train me to observe your law
and keep it with all my heart. (R./)
Lead me in the path of your commands,
for in it I delight.
Incline my heart to your decrees
and not to love of gain. (R./)
Turn away my eyes from what is false:
by your way give me life.
See, I long for your precepts;
then in your justice give me life. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew (7:15-20)

Judge the quality of the tree by its fruit

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? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad 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 sound, well-tested tree

With his saying that a good tree is known by its good fruit, Jesus was referring to its regular produce in the annual fruit harvest rather than to one single harvest alone. At the same time he warned how some people could be misled, “Be on guard against false prophets.. You will know them by their deeds.” We need to be attentive not to compromise our faith and our convictions, little by little, in the face of daily temptations. Continuing the analogy, we are aware that a tree generally does not die in a single moment but rather decays gradually from within.
Our covenant with God is not to be simply affirmed once and then forgotten. It needs repeating over and over again, even day by day. Yet there are certain pivotal moments in life, crucial turning points, when it is vital to say where we stand. Such a dramatic pivot was when on the occasion the Law of Moses was rediscovered, after long neglect, in some dusty corner of the Jerusalem temple. King Josiah has the law book read to different groups of people and then solemnizes a re-dedication to the covenant before all the people.
In our own life, if we have wandered away from the Lord’s will, or our first, enthusiastic hopes and ideals have faded, we need to turn to prayer, contemplate the Scriptures, and be willing to be converted anew to the Lord. Deuteronomy, with its call for renewal and fidelity, could, as in the days of King Josiah, be an excellent guide for ourselves. The good tree was only partially decayed; it doesn’t have to be cut down, only pruned and brought back to health, and again it will bear good fruit. God will again confirm our faith and renew the bond of life with us.

Appearances can deceive

Jesus draws attention to the gap between appearance and reality. Just as there can be more to some people than meets the eye, so there can be less to others than meets the eye. It is that second situation that Jesus warns about: those who look like sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves. They project an attractive image but it is false and deceptive. What’s really in our hearts does not always correspond to how we appear to others.
The real test of our hearts is the kind of attitude that bears fruit in our behaviour. “You can tell them by their fruits.” St Paul used that same imagery of “fruit” when, in his letter to the Galatians, he speaks about the “fruit of the Spirit”–“love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Even though Paul lists a variety of qualities, he doesn’t speak of “fruits” (plural) but of “fruit” (singular).There is one fruit of the Spirit which can be described in all these different ways; the term which best describes this comes first in Paul’s list, “love.” If our lives bear that kind of fruit, our heart belongs to God. We are like the “sound tree” that Jesus calls us to be.


(Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Doctor of the Church)

Cyril (378-444), from Alexandria in Egypt was the Patriarch of the Church in Alexandria from 412 to 444. He wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the late-4th and 5th centuries. He was a central figure in the Council of Ephesus in 431, which declared the mother of Jesus as “Theotokos” (the one who gave birth to God).

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