Scripture: Lectionary 373: II Kings 22:8-13; 23:1-3. Psalm 119:18.104.22.168.37.40. Matthew 7:15-20:
Jesus like Moses is calling us to be careful of those who think themselves prophetic. “Beware of false prophets.” We have some that can easily be discerned as false, for instance, those proclaiming the end of the world, or in the Catholic Church, those who are prophets of doom. The world of course is falsely prophetic whenever it continues to be a culture of death rather than following the greatness of the Gospel of life. Prophets of deception can appear even in the ranks of the Christian Churches. They promote themselves often by writing books on their very idiosyncratic point of view. Jesus tells us to be alert and to use our faith coupled with good judgment and clear reasoning.
We need to always be developing our graced gift of discernment through the Holy Spirit to make sure we do not follow these false prophets.
We are told to read the signs of the times and to interpret them in the light of the Gospel. This is not easy amidst all that is going on in a very chaotic and terror ridden world.
Scripture, Tradition, and the Teaching of the Church help us to form good judgments about how to cope with what is false and how to confront those who are wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing. We need to listen to the entire community which has the gift of knowing what is right and what is wrong through what we call the sensus fidelium or the good faithful understanding of what is truly God’s revelation and good will toward all of us. None of us are to be “lone rangers” in the tremendous needs we have for confronting what is truly right.
Psalm 119 is one of the greatest of psalms that leads us into the prophetic voice of those who really were authentic prophets and knew how to read the Scriptures and express them in human words. Though while I was younger this Psalm bothered me and I did not pay attention to it, now I see it as one that respects the Torah and also can be used in parallel with the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus is similar to another Moses who is a prophet of God. This Psalm gives us the prayer and praise of God’s will that helps us also to be of one mind with Jesus the Son of God and with God and the Holy Spirit. The verses given in the liturgical response are perfect for praying and understanding the lesson from today’s Gospel. Yes, Lord, we pray, teach us the way of your decrees.” (Psalm 119:33).
Josiah is one of the three great Kings of Judah who helped the People of God to return to the covenant given by God to Moses. David and Hezekiah were the other two noble Kings who sought to carry out the covenant and to worship the one true God in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Josiah ruled from 64-609 B.C. and after the book of Deuteronomy was discovered he resolved to begin a program of reform and to put the Temple in order. “Josiah’s reforms were of historic significance in the development of the monotheistic Israelite cult.” (Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion, p.215). Deuteronomy is one of the most encouraging books of the Bible and shows us the greatness of a true prophet, Moses, who gave us ways of discerning who are true prophets and who are false ones. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.