O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
your Son came to save us
and bore our sins on the cross:
may we trust in your mercy
and know your love,
rejoicing in the righteousness
that is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Give praise, you servants of the Lord,
O praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord,
from this time forth and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
let the name of the Lord be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations
and his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
that has his throne so high,
yet humbles himself to behold
the things of heaven and earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ashes,
To set them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a place in the house
and makes her a joyful mother of children.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
‘Why do you call me “Lord, Lord”, and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.’
Jesus said: Each tree is known by its own fruit.
In recent days there have emerged many stories of those who used their celebrity to mask criminal and harmful behaviour. We regularly hear of those who were seen, despite the truths told by their victims, to be beyond reproach because of their fame. Such famous people were sometimes generous in the way they used their wealth to support others but, as we now know, that generosity was not genuine, it was a cloak behind which they ruthlessly damaged the lives of young and other vulnerable people. Jesus’ words in today’s reading should help us put the duplicity of the abusers and the exploiters into some sort of context.
Jesus says that: Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. These words are not meant to urge us into an attitude of permanent scepticism and mistrust. Rather they are encouraging us to a life of honesty and openness. We need to beware when we are tempted to put on a ‘show’ and lead others into thinking well of us. Jesus makes it clear that the time will come when the truth will out, as the true nature of the spiritual fruit we produce is tasted and found to be wanting.
Jesus’ comments on the truth and worthiness of the fruit we produce is juxtaposed with the parable of the men who built their homes on different types of foundations. The home of the one who took the time and invested the effort into laying strong foundations stood the test of the flood, while the man whose house was built for show alone suffered the indignity of seeing it swept away as the flood waters rose.
In today’s reading we are being warned of God’s call to live an honest life, a life that seeks to honour God’s word and to glorify him in the details. Today we are being urged to set aside our need for the adoration of those amongst whom we live and to become humble and honest, letting the façade fade away and the true heart and spirit shine through.
We may live lives that deceive others, but we need to remember that we cannot hide the truth from God. If we live as thorns and brambles we will never yield the lush, rich fruits of the fig tree and the vine. Let us pray that we might set aside our need to hide behind a wall of untruth and deception, and let us pray that our Christ-like honesty may shine forth and give nourishment and consolation to those who are seeking a closer relationship with God.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to our heavenly Father, who calls us into his Kingdom.
Strengthen your Church to stand firmly on her divine foundation in Christ. May the faith which we profess be shown in works of justice, care and compassion.
Lead all people into the way of truth. When choice is demanded, grant true judgement so that the world may grow closer to the way of salvation.
Keep us constant in Christian love for all who come into our lives. Show us ways in which we can make our faith a clear sign to others. Protect our community from the foolishness that brings destruction.
Have mercy on all who have gone astray and chosen evil ways. Give greater assurance to those who are afraid or ashamed to confess their faith.
Receive into your Kingdom the souls of those who have died. Redeemed by grace, may they be forgiven for their sins and rest in peace.
Trusting in Jesus Christ, the only sure foundation, we make our prayers in his name.
Prayer for the week
May our Lord Jesus Christ
be near us to defend us,
within us to refresh us,
around us to preserve us,
before us to guide us,
above us to bless us;
who lives and reigns
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
God for evermore.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.