12th Week in Ordinary Time
Cyril of Alexandria
1st Reading: 2 K 22:8–13; 23:1–3
At that moment Hilkiah, the high priest, said to Shaphan, the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the House of Yahweh.” And he entrusted the Book to Shaphan who read it. Then Shaphan went to the king and said, “We have gathered the money in the House, and this has been turned over to the caretakers of the House to make the repairs.”
And Shaphan added, “The priest Hilkiah has turned over a book to me.” And Shaphan read the book to the king. When the king heard the contents of the book, he tore his clothes and commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam, Achbor, the secretary Shaphan, and Asaiah, his minister, to do the following, “Go and consult Yahweh about the threats in this book which you have found. Consult him for me, for the people and for the whole of Judah, since our fathers did not listen to what this book says nor to its ordinances. This is why the anger of Yahweh is ready to burn against us.”
The king summoned to his side all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. Then he went up to the House of Yahweh followed by all the people of Judah and Jerusalem. The priests with the prophets and all the people went with him, from the youngest to the oldest. When all were gathered, he read to them the book of the Law found in the House of Yahweh.
The king stood by the pillar; he made a covenant in the presence of Yahweh, promising to follow him, to keep his commandments and laws, and to respect his ordinances. He promised to keep this covenant according to what was written in the book with all his heart and with all his soul. And all the people promised with him.
Gospel: Matthew 7:15-20
Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of false prophets: they come to you in sheep’s clothing but inside they are wild wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Do you ever pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
“A good tree always produces good fruit, a rotten tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit and a rotten tree cannot bear good fruit. Any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire. So you will know them by their fruit.”
Trees are our great teachers – strong and silent, dependable, able to endure great storms that would blow us away. Christians down the ages have seen deep significance in trees. They can also illustrate something for us. Trees are our oldest neighbors so they can speak to us. More than that, they have many things in common with us: like us, they bear good fruit and bad, or much fruit one year and little the next, or none at all (some are all blossoms and show-off). And like us, they are incapable of producing fruit that is not in their nature to produce. To understand ourselves we could do worse than sit under a tree for an hour.
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