Sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity
You’re looking at a flock of sheep grazing out on a field on a warm summer’s day. You see the spring lambs are fast growing up. You see the blue paint on newly shorn backs, and, every so often, you hear the familiar “baa”. As you look, you see one sheep behaving strangely. It isn’t ampling like other sheep, it’s pacing. The other sheep are grazing, this one is only pretending to graze, dipping its head to tufts of grass, every so often then looking round somewhat furtively. It appears to be sniffing and sizing up the other sheep.
What would you say?
A wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Well, indeed. But isn’t a wolf dressed up like a sheep easy to spot?
Our Lord is pretty clear that false prophets are like this wolf in sheep’s clothing. They are up to no good. We are told that we can spot them because the true intentions of a false prophet will eventually reveal themselves to us. We have to watch carefully, and as soon as we spot it, we raise the alarm.
So how does one tell a real prophet from a false prophet? What are the fruits of a good prophet?
First we do have to listen carefully to them. There is only one Catholic Faith and that is contained in the three creeds. One good thing to listen for is how they treat Our Lord’s being.
If they try to separate Our Lord’s humanity from His Divinity, they are false prophets. The Lord Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine, not by changing Divinity into Humanity, but by taking Humanity into Himself.
If they try to separate out any one aspect of Our Lord’s incarnation, they are false prophets. The entirety of the Lord Jesus’ life is for our salvation, not just one little bit. You cannot separate the Crucifixion from the Nativity, nor from the Resurrection. There is One Lord Jesus, and He is eternal and indivisible.
If they try to see any one human being as a means to an end, then they are a false prophet. Our Lord is clear that every human being is a cherished child of God and is worth His Incarnation for their salvation as much as us or anyone else.
If they try to change or alter the meanings of the Church’s teaching to suit an agenda, they are a false prophet. There is only One God and He is Eternal, saving every human being regardless of Time and Space. We learn the meaning of the Church’s teaching by reading Holy Scripture and listening to the early Christians and how they interpret them before the Eastern Church separated from the Western Church.
Finally, if they try preach the hatred of any human being rather than the hatred of the works of the Devil, they are a false prophet. All sin separates us from God, but none of us are irredeemable unless we make ourselves so by rejecting God. Even then, we still reach out to those who are seeking to lose themselves.
These are a few ways in which we can spot a false prophet, but there are others, and it is only by knowing the difference between the works of God and the works of the Devil that we will know how to spot the wolf trying to get in our midst. If we hold onto God as a loving father, we will see and be safe in Him.