Tony Worner, Leader of Lay Formation for St Agnes’ Catholic Parish, continues the sequence of the previous three days, reading from Matthew’s Gospel (7: 15-20) in which Jesus warns his disciples to ‘Beware of false prophets’.

Perhaps, Tony says, we have never needed the warning about false prophets as much as we do today, when the internet and social media so often presents us with many untruths. We can judge false prophets by the result of their words. If their words result in peace and love, we can believe them. If the result is hate, anger and criticism, we need to receive them with caution.

St Paul, in the Letter to the Galatians, wrote of the fruit of the Spirit where he lists love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as evidence of God’s work. Anything that is not connected to one of these cannot be of or from God.

Tony notes that ‘fruit’ in the modern sense is a specific term meaning something that contains seeds. In the Bible, “fruit” is the product of any living thing. So, Elizabeth says to Mary, “Blessed is the fruit of your womb.” To the Hebrew mind, the fruitfulness of the land was for the sake of the fruitfulness of human beings. This is why there are so many parables and metaphors about fruitfulness in the Gospels. It is why Jesus curses the fig tree which bears no fruit. It is no good to anyone. We cannot bear good fruit if our lives are poisoned by hatred and selfishness.

To conclude, Tony invites us to pray: Lord, cultivate in me the fruits of your Spirit, so that I may become fully alive and bring joy and life to others. Amen.