O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
God our saviour,
look on this wounded world
in pity and in power;
hold us fast to your promises of peace
won for us by your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.
O give thanks to the Lord and call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples.
Sing to him, sing praises,
and tell of all his marvellous works.
Rejoice in the praise of his holy name;
let the hearts of them rejoice who seek the Lord.
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his face continually.
Remember the marvels he has done,
his wonders and the judgements of his mouth,
O seed of Abraham his servant,
O children of Jacob his chosen.
He is the Lord our God;
his judgements are in all the earth.
He has always been mindful of his covenant,
the promise that he made for a thousand generations:
The covenant he made with Abraham,
the oath that he swore to Isaac.
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, ‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.’
Beware of false prophets.
What does the word ‘prophet’ mean to you? In the life of the Church, it is a word that is used on many occasions, but do we really understand what it means? We hear readings from the major Old Testament prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, as well as from the twelve minor prophets, but do we understand their place in God’s plan for this world? If, as I suspect, most of us have only a vague notion of what a ‘prophet’ really is, how can we hope to tell the difference between the real thing and the false prophets Jesus warns us of in today’s reading?
If you look up the word ‘prophet’ in the dictionary you will find a range of definitions. In the Chambers Dictionary there are six. Those definitions seem to be arranged in a descending order of reliability, moving from someone who speaks on behalf of a deity, through the proclaimer of divine messages, an inspired teacher, the spokesperson for a group, movement or doctrine, a foreteller, to a tipster. This list helps us with any uncertainty we might feel about Jesus’ words to us today. A prophet is one who speaks as a messenger between God and humanity. Any claim to being a prophet that does not measure up to this exacting standard is specious and false!
In this world there are many who are heralded as prophets because of their eloquence and personality. They proclaim messages that they claim to be divine; they teach and preach in an ‘inspired’ and inspiring way; they argue in favour of groups, movements and doctrines; they foretell the future; and they assess the odds of how the future might play out. But … it is only those who hear and proclaim the word of God who are the true prophets, the ones to whom we should be paying special attention.
Jesus tells us to beware false prophets. Unfortunately, the false prophets are often the ones who come with the most razzamatazz and glamour. And yet, not matter how slick their presentation may be, they are still the false prophets we are warned against.
I pray that we might hold firm to Jesus’ teaching and listen only to the true prophets, the true messengers of God. I pray that the truths they proclaim might guide the way in which we live out our lives. I pray that we may find the strength God gives us to resist the glitz of the false way, in order that we might live lives of true discipleship.
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God, who alone gives to his people the power for good.
Grant that your Church, constant in faith and love, may bring forth good fruit. Cleanse her from all that hinders her mission, and make her ministers wise in the teaching of holy scripture.
Draw the peoples of the world into the fold of your love, that they may love one another and cease from strife. Defend them from false teachers and all that would lead them astray.
We pray that we may abide in Christ, and his words may abide in us, so that we and all in our community shall be united in him. Let us in our work and in our recreation use well the gifts we have been given.
Have mercy on all who are threatened by the wolves of war and violence, and on those who suffer from the wickedness of false leaders. Come to all who have been abandoned by those in whom they trusted, and lead them back to live again in confidence.
Grant to the faithful departed the eternal life promised through Jesus Christ. May his saving love avail for those who have passed through this world and into the world beyond.
Thankful for the grace and truth revealed in Christ, we pray through him.
Prayer for the week
Lord of all,
inspired by your word and your love,
your apostles preached the good news to all people.
Strengthen us to be apostles in our own lives,
that through the goodness of our actions,
the thoughtfulness of our faith
and the quality of our common life,
many might come to know the joy of life with you,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
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. Amen.
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.