False Prophets, Profiteers

Matthew 7: 15-20
2 Kgs 22: 8-13; 23: 1-3 / Ps 119: 33-34, 36-37, 40

Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.
(Matthew 7:15-16)

They claim this world as God’s kingdom,
False prophets lead us from the truth;
Pray to the Lord for the wisdom
To recognize them by their fruit.

(Jesus said), “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath they are ravenous wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruits you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7: 15-20)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, our Lord warns us about the danger of falling prey to charlatans whose devious schemes can bring disaster to our souls (not to mention our pockets). The tens of thousands of “Christian” denominations that have proliferated all over the world bear witness to the accuracy of our Lord’s prophecy. The principle of the separation of church and state has given rise to thousands of ‘profiteers’ who have seen that they can raise a bundle of tax-free money, with a little charisma and a good memory for Bible verses. Millions of nominal Christians who are disillusioned in the practice of their faith, and other faith-seekers are simply ripe pickings for these ‘prophet-profiteers’. Instead of repentance, they preach the Old Testament practice of tithing and offerings for the salvation of souls.

Jesus, however, tells us that we can recognize these false prophets by their fruit (or lack of it). Of course our Lord tells us not to be judgmental, but cautions us to be more discerning in choosing the leaders that we can trust. The “fruit” that we can recognize are the good examples that they have shown – in shepherding and in stewardship. Are they leading others to Christ, or to themselves alone? How well are they managing the resources that have been entrusted to them? I had the misfortune of encountering one such false prophet when our family ventured into the business of copra trading many years ago. A municipal mayor and pastor of a coastal area in Davao del Sur so impressed me with his grasp of Holy Scriptures that I thought we had found the perfect business partner we could trust to handle our buying operations in that region. Our family paid heavily for my naïveté. If only I had bothered to see how many people attended his small church for service, I would have realized what a big fake of a pastor he was. He was just as false in our business dealings, so we had no recourse but to abandon the business in the region under his control.

We have been warned repeatedly about false prophets. Writers in both the Old and the New Testaments have written about many wolves in sheep’s clothing roaming the earth. They will be around deceiving millions until the Second Coming of Christ. As members of the Communion of Saints, let us pray for the intercession of our saints in heaven that God our Father will protect us from the evil influence of these false prophets in our midst. Let God’s Word in the Bible be our guide: “Even if an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than the one which you have received from us, let him be accursed.” (Gal.1:8) “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, whether by word, or by our epistle.” (2 Thess. 2:15)

Dear God, send us true prophets to counter the false; true leaders to show us the right ways in following Your will. May Your judgment fall swiftly on the anti-christs who are leading so many away from Your kingdom. May Your Word and Spirit be our constant protection against all false prophets. Amen.

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