The high priest Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, "I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord." When Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, he read it. Then Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, "Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workers who have oversight of the house of the Lord." Shaphan the secretary informed the king, "The priest Hilkiah has given me a book." Shaphan then read it aloud to the king.
When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. Then the king commanded the priest Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary, and the king's servant Asaiah, saying, "Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our ancestors did not obey the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us."
Then the king directed that all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem should be gathered to him. The king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him went all the people of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant.
Instruct me, O Lord, in the way of your statutes,
that I may observe them to the end.
Train me to observe your law
and keep it with all my heart. (R./)
Lead me in the path of your commands,
for in it I delight.
Incline my heart to your decrees
and not to love of gain. (R./)
Turn away my eyes from what is false:
by your way give me life.
See, I long for your precepts;
then in your justice give me life. (R./)
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."
When Jesus stated that a good tree is known by its good fruit, he was referring to the annual fruit harvest rather than to a single harvest, once for all time. At the same time he warned how some people could be misled, "Be on guard against false prophets.. You will know them by their deeds." We need to be attentive not to compromise our faith and our convictions, little by little, in the face of daily temptations. Continuing the analogy of the fruit tree, we know that a tree generally does not die in a single moment but rather decays gradually from within.
Our covenant with God is not to be simply affirmed once and then forgotten. It must be ratified over and over again, even day by day. Yet there are certain pivotal moments in life, crucial turning points, and such a dramatic time came when the Law of Moses was rediscovered, after long neglect, in some dusty corner of the temple. King Josiah has the law book read to different groups of people and then solemnizes a re-dedication to the covenant before all the people.
In our own life, if we have wandered far from the Lord's will, or our first hopes and ideals have faded, we need to turn to prayer, contemplate the Scriptures, and be willing to be converted anew to the Lord. The book of Deuteronomy, with its call for renewal and fidelity, could, as in the days of King Josiah, be an excellent guide for ourselves. The good tree was only partially decayed; it doesn't have to be cut down, only pruned and brought back to health, and again it will bear good fruit. God will again confirm our faith and renew the bond of life with us.
Jesus draws attention to the gap there can often be between appearance and reality. Just as there can be more to some people than meets the eye, so there can be less to others than meets the eye. It is that second situation that Jesus highlights in the gospel. He speaks of those who look like sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves. They project an attractive image but it is false and deceptive. Where our hearts are does not always correspond to how we appear to others. Jesus declares that the real test of where our hearts are is the kind of fruit that our lives bear. "You will be able to tell them by their fruits." St Paul used that same language of "fruit" when, in his letter to the Galatians, he speaks about the "fruit of the Spirit"--"love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Even though Paul lists different qualities, he doesn't speak of "fruits" but of "fruit." There is one fruit of the Spirit which can be described in all these different ways; the term which best describes this one fruit is the first term in Paul's list, "love." If our lives bear that kind of fruit, our heart belongs to God. We are like the "sound tree" Jesus refers to in the gospel