Saturday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
“For every tree is known by its own fruit.”
The first of Jesus’ brief parables today might seem-evident. He instructs us that a “good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.” Yet some reflection suggests an argument against this lesson.
History shows us many examples of wolves not only wearing sheep’s clothing, but acting like sheep. History reveals many rotten trees bearing what seems good fruit. The devil at times clothes himself in light, not in order to bear the Lord a fruitful harvest of souls, but for his own devious purposes.
Given this, how should we interpret Jesus’ words? Perhaps the problem is in someone using His words as a tool to judge others rather than a means of one’s own conversion. God in His all-seeing Providence certainly can act along the line of Jesus’ words as He judges his children. But we cannot do this for many reasons, among which is that we can only judge exterior fruits, whether good or rotten. We cannot see spiritual fruits that are visible only to God and to the consciences of others. Nor can we see the motives of others. Better, then, that each of us use Jesus’ words as part of an examination of one’s own conscience, asking God to conform our minds and hearts to His.