Mat 7:13-23 "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. "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. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'
We live in a world where we are tempted protect ourselves by hiding in the crowd. Our actions are determined by the majority opinion; our ethics, our morality; our political choices.... even our ways of dressing are determined by what everyone else is doing. In the above passage Jesus points to the “wide gate” and the “easy road” that is the choice of “many who take it”. Instead, says Jesus, choose to live life according to the inner spiritual values that produce good fruit. He warns that this will not be popular or easy, but it is the road that leads to life.As I reflect on this I see that the same can hold true even for Christian living. There are popular Christian trends that attract large crowds of followers, and which generate lucrative careers for preachers/teachers with charisma. In recent memory we have seen the crowds flock to learn about ecstatic manifestations of the Holy Spirit, to obtain new ways of church management guaranteed to grow bigger membership, and sing songs written by Christian rock stars. Jesus says that the test is not people crying “Lord, Lord”, but rather whether this can generate fruit: which St Paul describes as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22).
Thought:Please take the mask off me
Make me what I should be
Someone who’s all for Thee, O Lord
Please take the mask off me.
The Seventh Sunday after EpiphanyUnchanging Truths
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.90