It takes a discerning eye to see that the truth is in what something produces, not in what it wants you to believe.
Today’s readings can be found here.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.” In a world dominated by appearances, Jesus tells us that we must never use image as the criterion for discernment, but solely and exclusively the fruits. Indeed, evil is a master of appearances, and precisely because of this it immediately garners an audience and consensus.
Instead, it takes a discerning eye to see that the truth is in what something produces, not in what it wants you to believe. This is the case with so many things that happen to us or that we experience on a human, social, political, cultural, and even religious level. Not infrequently, in fact, even the Church can be invaded by false prophets who create a broad consensus through their appearances. They seem to be reassuring precisely because of the number of adherents they gather, but in reality, Jesus says, “they are ravenous wolves.”
When someone says to me, “Look at that movement!” or “Look at that association, that religious institute, that ecclesial project, and see how many numerous adherents it has,” I usually tell these people that looking at numbers is the wrong criterion of discernment, because fruits are not seen by numbers but by holiness.
In fact, if you have mind-boggling numbers but then create confusion in people’s hearts by speaking badly about the pope, bishops, doctrine, the Council, Mary, or the liturgy, all of that is a clear sign that there’s a wolf hiding behind that experience. The real reformers in the Church are not those who proclaim themselves as such, but the saints. I know of no saints who have given themselves authority; rather, they have usually changed things thanks to the very truest fruit of the Spirit: humility.
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio’, Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.