ST IRENAEUS Bp, M (Memorial) Red
He was the bishop of Lyons and a disciple of St Polycarp of Smyrna. Born in c. 130 at Asia Minor. He worked and wrote against Gnosticism. Gnosticism taught that salvation is achieved through special knowledge and that the material world is evil. If matter is evil, it therefore means that Jesus Christ cannot be true God and true man for Christ is not evil. So Gnostics by teaching that matter is evil denied the Incarnation. With the works of St John Irenaeus argued against Gnosticism. He also emphasised the unity of the Old and New Testament and was martyred in 202. His tomb and relics were destroyed.
First Reading: Gn 15:1-12. 17-18; Psalm: 105. R. v. 8a; Gospel: Mt 7:15-20
DISCERNING THE PROPHETS OF OUR TIME
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
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? (Mt 7:15-16).
The existence of false prophets in our world today is undisputed. They are everywhere. Some preachers in the course of their ministry inadvertently portray themselves as false prophets by the content of their teachings and prophecies. This group of religious leaders are different from those who deliberately set out to deceive Christians by taking advantage of their fickle behaviours and gullible inclinations. These are the set of people that Jesus labelled as those who come to us in sheep clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. They aim to satisfy their insatiable appetite by preying on their flock. Beware of them.
But how do we identify them? We know them by their fruits. The fruits of their utterances and the fruits of their character and beliefs. They preach solely for their self-interest or gain. They teach to project their prestige and accentuate their grandeur of intelligence instead of glorifying God. The staged themselves to be deified by brainwashing their followers to believe that every utterances they make are the utterances of God. They suffocate the spiritual growth of their flock by inducing them to believe that God can only speak to them through their prophecies thereby making the followers perpetual slaves of dependence. They preach only prosperity gospel without the cross.
In 1Peter 2:21, scripture says “Christ suffered for you leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.” Hence, any teaching that relegates Christ to the background or contradicts his life of love, selflessness, forgiveness, sacrifice and suffering comes from a false prophet. The words of Jesus in the gospel of today should serve as a guide to all religious leaders. The content of our words and character defines us. These words of Jesus should also serve as a yardstick of discernment to all Christians especially those who manifest spiritual naivety through unreasonable followership. Jesus warned that ‘we will know false prophets by their fruits because grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles’ (Mt 7:16). Don’t be a dumb follower. Have that discerning mentality. Observe, discern and then belief.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, we pray for the gift of discernment. Amen.