Thus says the LORD: They made kings in Israel, but not by my authority; they established princes, but without my approval. –Hosea 8:4
But the Pharisees said, “He drives out demons by the prince of demons.” -John 9:34
“Fake News,” “Alternative Facts,” “Misinformation,” It’s hard to listen today to any source of current events without wondering if you are hearing the truth. John records Jesus as saying, “The truth will set you free.” But sometimes it is difficult to determine the truth from the falsehood.
In today’s gospel we have a clear example of fake news. The Pharisees, without discerning for themselves, declare that Jesus, “drives out demons by the prince of demons.” This is obviously said to dissuade the people from listening to Jesus. They fear the growing influence Jesus has on the crowds. They see his impact and want to mitigate it. They suspect their own influence might wane if people begin to believe in Jesus. Who should the people believe? The Pharisees, who are their leaders, or this upstart?
Later in Matthew Jesus says we will “know them [the good trees] by their fruits.” When people ask Jesus if he is the awaited Messiah, He tells them to report what they see, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” These all seem to be very good fruits.
Jesus clearly tells us to discern with our own eyes. Where do we see compassion, tenderness, kindness being expressed? These are the “good fruits” He tells us to look for.
Unfortunately, this takes effort on our part. It is easier to choose a side and stick to it, regardless of the position. But as Christians we are asked to be awake and aware of what is going on around us. We are called to look for “the good fruits” and not fall into the trap of blindly following a particular party out of ease. My prayer for today is that I take the time and effort to discern the “good fruits” in the world around me before I choose to lend my support.
Talib Huff is a member of the retreat team at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center In Citrus Heights, California. You can contact him at [email protected].