25 June 2008 Wednesday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time
Matthew 7, 15-20
We all know about false prophets. Jeremiah had conflicts with prophets who said that there was peace, when there was war (Jeremiah 6, 14). Ezekiel called them wolves. When sending his disciples, Jesus warned them about wolves, that his disciples will be sent like sheep in the midst of wolves. Paul also said, “Fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” False prophets were like wolves in sheep’s clothing. St. Ignatius of Loyola, warned a person in prayer about the devil who appears like angels. And we, today, know these false prophets, like politicians’ promises on television. Sometimes they look too good to be true.
Jesus said that we get to know their deceptions from their fruits. Kung anong kahoy, yaong bunga (like tree, like fruit). Epictetus said, “How can a vine grow not like a vine but like an olive, or, how can an olive grow not like an olive but a vine.” We get to know whether someone is real if one fulfills one’s promises.
These are the differences. First, a false prophet is interested in oneself. A true shepherd cares for his flock more than his life; but a false prophet like a wolf cares nothing but to satisfy one’s hunger and greed. The true prophet asks what he can contribute to others; the false prophet thinks about what he can get for himself. Remember the tragedy of Burma, the government officials whose responsibility is the common welfare are the same officials who prevented relief goods from reaching the people.
Second, the false prophet is interested in one’s prestige. A person may help someone in need: but the true and false prophet can be seen with a motive. The true wants to help, the false wants people who see how helpful he is. The false prophet wants to display; the true prophet works without the cameras.
But these are not just our public figures. We can either be a false or true prophet in our own private lives. Or, we can vacillate from being false and true prophets. If we are halo-halo, a mixture of both, then my suggestion is this: if you are doing something that is already good, then we just have to work on our motivations. Our impure agenda should not prevent us from lending a hand. Perhaps by purifying our motives, we can make whatever good we do better and honorable.