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False Prophets
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"For, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:22)

 

Errors can be corrected and trends reversed if only our faith and determination does not fail us in our earnest quest for the truth.

False Prophets:
The Priests of the Congregation of Saint Paul (1886)

GOSPEL: (St. Matthew 7:15-21) At that time, Jesus said to his disciples;

  1. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves."

  2. "By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?"

  3. "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit: and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit."

  4. "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit: neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit."

  5. "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down and shall be cast into the fire."

  6. "Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them."

  7. "Not every man that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Gospel of the day: Beware of False Prophets.

I believe, my dear brethren, that all of you understand what our Lord means when he says in today's Gospel, "Beware of false prophets."

I believe that you would tell me, at least if you stopped to think about it for a moment, that he meant to warn us against those who were to come after him, pretending to teach his doctrine, claiming that theirs was the true and pure Christian religion, by putting on, as he says, sheep's clothing; but in reality actually striving to draw the faithful away from the unity of the church which he had established ; being, in fact, to use his own words, ravenous wolves.

Yes, you would tell me this, and you would be right in your explanation of his words. It is, indeed, of these false Christian teachers that he would warn us. It is against the innumerable errors which are taught as Christianity, and against the countless self-appointed guides to His “one religion” who were to multiply as time went on, that he wished to forewarn us; to keep us from listening to them, or allowing ourselves to be turned by them from the one source of truth which he has provided for us in his holy Catholic Church.

And without a doubt, if we will but listen to His warning, we will NOT be deceived by their pretensions. If a Catholic loses his faith today, it is usually easy enough to see that he does so, not because he is really deceived by the false prophet and takes him for a true one, but because he wishes to lead an easier life without being blamed for it; because he objects to confession and the other laws of the church as imposing too much restraint on him, or because his temporal interests will be advanced by the change.

But still, in spite of this general security which we now have against being deceived by the persuasions of those who would lead us into error, nay, even on account of this very security which we feel, we do not obey quite carefully enough our Lord s warning. We think we are in no danger from these false prophets, and so we are willing enough to hear what they say. We would not join with them; far from it; but we think there is no harm in hearing or reading their discourses, or acquainting ourselves with their books. We do not, in short, beware of them; we think that there is no need to do so. Really, however, there is. When our Lord said, "Beware of these false prophets," he meant just what he said. He knew that they would do us harm if we did not beware; that, if they did not destroy our faith, they would at least mar its purity or diminish its intensity if we did not take care to avoid them and their teachings in every way. And the church has always acted on the principle which her Divine Founder here laid down, in her instructions to her children. She does not wish even her priests to concern themselves with heretical or infidel doctrines, except with the intention of confuting them as their office requires, fortified though they be with the most thorough instruction in and knowledge of the truth.

We are none of us perfectly wise and above the reach of even the most absurd errors, especially when our nature, corrupted by sin, is enlisted on the side of those errors; and, if not in danger of actually falling into any of them in particular, we may at least, by acquainting ourselves with those into which great men have been led, be likely to fall into the most dangerous of all errors, that of believing that truth is so hard to find that it cannot be expected that all should find it, and that it makes no difference what a man believes, as long as he does what seems to the world in general to be right.

The true course for us is, then, to beware of false guides in religion by keeping out of their way altogether; and, on the other hand, to study as far as we can the truth, which, if we learn it and grasp it as we should, conveys in itself the answer to them all.

Listen to the true prophets, and leave the false ones alone; that is the highest wisdom from the mouth of our Divine Lord himself.

We do not heed our Lord’s admonition.

 

(Five-Minute Sermons: Low Masses: All Sundays of the Year - Volume II
The Priests of the Congregation of Saint Paul - 1886
)


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