Rom. 6:19-23; Mt. 7:15-21
The Gospel today had a specific
application in our Lord’s day, in the apostolic Church, and in our own
day. It is a perennial issue, that is,
false teachers. And our Lord says something
wonderfully and disarmingly simple: the
inside and the outside must match. There
is a sensibility about this in the society in some areas. We have laws about truth in advertising. The list of ingredients on the outside of the
can need to be the same as the inside, and, if not, there are penalties. But the society rarely thinks of this in
terms of other important areas, as well.
The Lord has
given us the whole truth through His Church, and no one may replace it with an
agenda or ideology. Doctrine does not
develop. Our understanding of it
does. There is no new revelation. The Gospel is sufficient in itself. By the same token, no one can teach revealed
truth separated from the Church. How can
someone teach the truth, while rejecting the true Church? It is a contradiction. Their actions speak louder than words. The Lord gives the criterion of the true
teacher at the end of this Gospel, the one who does the will of my Father. It is God’s will that all people belong to
the Church. The inside and the outside
must match. We are to be members of the
Church and to proclaim revealed truth faithfully.
The genius of
the 1962 Missal has paired this Gospel with the Epistle reading from Romans,
which gives this Gospel a wider application to our lives. By our faith and baptism, we have been given
sanctifying grace, the very indwelling of the life of God, Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost. Then our whole lives become
a process of interiorization, by conversion, where the inner person is reshaped
after the manner of that divine life.
How wonderful that God, in love has created us in His image and
likeness, and recreated us by baptism in the image and likeness of His
Son. Then, refined, He invites us to let
the inside and the outside match, in such a way that our works are at once
entirely our own, they emanate from our will, and, at the same time, the work
of God, emanating from His grace. “I am
the vine, you are the branches,” He says.
So near is God to us, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, nearer to us than we
are to ourselves. This is a great
mystery to be contemplated and appreciated.
There are many
places in the Scripture where a tree is used to illustrate some aspect of grace
or the Kingdom of God. There is a
beautiful verse in Psalm 1, referring to the just man, which says, “Like a tree
planted near running waters, whose leaves never fade.” With your mind’s eye, you can picture King
David, in the desert, dry and arid, and all the vegetation shriveled up. And then he sees a tree, thriving, green,
laden with fruit. And then he looks at
the trunk, and sees that it is rooted in a river closeby. We are like that tree, rooted in Christ, with
an steady supply of grace, thriving, bearing fruit which is at once ours and
also God’s, where the inner life and the outer life match.