First Reading: 2Kgs 22:8-13; 23:1-3; Psalm: 119. R. v. 33a; Gospel: Mt 7:15-20
IDENTIFYING FALSE PROPHETS
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
The existence of false prophets in our world today is undisputed. They are everywhere. Some 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 him/her 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, grant us the gift of discernment. Amen.