St. Irenaeus, Bishop & Martyr
Genesis 15:1-12,17-18 + Matthew 7:15-20
June 28, 2017
“‘By their fruits you will know them.’”
Twice in today’s Gospel passage Jesus uses this phrase: “By their fruits you will know them.” Jesus is speaking here about “bad fruit”, by which one can know false prophets. In our own day, part of the scandal that members of the Church—laity and clergy alike—face is that considerable “bad fruit” has been borne by bishops and priests of the Church that Jesus founded. How can one reconcile that such men who are validly ordained seem by their fruits to be false prophets?
Without taking away from any of the harsh reality that Jesus is describing in today’s Gospel passage, we’re mindful to read each passage in the context of the entire Gospel. We’re mindful of Jesus’ Parable of the Barren Fig Tree [Luke 13:6-9], where the gardener (a symbol of our Savior) makes this plea: “Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.” These words give hope for reformation in the lives of those who have been truly called by God to service in His Church, but who have truly failed to bear fruit. The Truth who is Christ can bring redemption to all, just as He will bring just judgment to all.