Those who do not yield good fruit and remain unrepentant will be cast into the eternal fire
Comprehensive Catholic Commentary
Fr. George Leo Haydock
For the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, quite possibly the most powerful of affirmations is given by our Lord and Savior that it isn't that difficult to tell who are the false prophets and heretics for by their fruits we shall know them. There is nothing ambiguous about Christ's words that a bad tree will be chopped down and rooted out, then cast into the fire. What other kind of fire would the Son of Man be talking about in His parable but eternal hellfire? It dovetails with St. Paul's words in the epistle that the wages of sin is death, as in mortal sin equals death to eternal life; and that eternal life is available only through the grace of God, our salvation merited by Christ's offering Himself on the Cross, shedding every last drop of His Most Precious Blood for us. A most fitting commentary to the Epistle and Gospel for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost in these tumultuous times.
Epistle: Romans 6: 3-11
19 I speak a human thing, because of the infirmity of your flesh. For as you have yielded your members to serve uncleanness and iniquity, unto iniquity; so now yield your members to serve justice, unto sanctification.
Commentary on Verse 19 I speak a human thing,(Humanum dico, anthropinon lego; chap. iii. 6. Secundum hominem, kat anthropon. See St. John Chrysostom, hom. xii.) or I am proposing to you what is according to human strength and ability assisted by the grace of God, with a due regard to the weakness and infirmity of your flesh. The sense, according to St. Chrysostom is this, that the apostle having told them they must be dead to sin, lead a new life, &c. he now encourages them to it, by telling them, that what is required of them is not above their human strength, as it is assisted by those graces which God offers them, and which they have received. Where we may observe that these words, I speak a human thing, are not the same, nor to be taken in the same sense, as chap. iii. 6. when he said, I speak after a human way, or I speak like men. (Witham) --- What I ask of you, Christian Romans, is, that you so earnestly labour for your sanctification as to improve daily in virtue, as formerly you plunged every day deeper and deeper into vice. (Menochius)
20 For when you were the servants of sin, you were free men to justice.
21 What fruit therefore had you then in those things, of which you are now ashamed? For the end of them is death.
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end life everlasting.
Commentary on Verse 20-22 You were free from justice; that is, says St. John Chrysostom, you lived as no ways subject to justice, nor obedient to the law and precepts of God: an unhappy freedom, a miserable liberty, worse than the greatest slavery, the end of which is death, eternal death: of which sins with great reason you are now ashamed, when you are become the servants of God, and obedient to him, for which you will receive the fruit and reward of everlasting life in Heaven. (Witham)
23 For the wages of sin is death. But the grace of God, life everlasting, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Commentary on Verse 23 For the wages, which the tyrant sin gives to his soldiers and slaves, is eternal death; but the wages, the pay, the reward, which God gives to those that fight under him, is everlasting life; which, though a reward of our past labours, as it is often called in the Scriptures, is still a grace, ( Gratia Dei, vita æterna; that is, in construction, vita æterna, est gratia Dei.) or free gift; because if our works are good, or deserve a reward in heaven, it is God's grace that makes them deserve it. For, as St. Augustine says, when God crowns our works, he crowns his own gifts. (Witham)
Gospel: St. Matthew 7: 15-21
15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Commentary on Verse 15 In the clothing of sheep. Beware of hypocrites, with their outward appearance of sanctity, and sound doctrine --- by their fruits you shall know them. Such hypocrites can scarcely ever continue constant in the practice of what is good. (Witham) --- Heretics usually affect an extraordinary appearance of zeal and holiness, calling themselves evangelical preachers and teachers of the gospel, as if that Church which preceded them, and which descends by an uninterrupted succession from the apostles, did not teach the pure gospel of Christ. (Haydock) --- Beware of false prophets, or heretics. They are far more dangerous than the Jews, who being rejected by the apostles, are also avoided by Christians, but these having the appearance of Christianity, having churches, sacraments, &c. &c. deceive many. These are the rapacious wolves, of whom St. Paul speaks, Acts xx. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. xix.) Origen styles them, the gates of death, and the path to hell. (Com. in Job. lib. i. Tom. 2.)
16 By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Commentary on Verse 16 As the true Church is known by the four marks of its being one, holy, catholic, and apostolical, so heretics and false teachers are known by certain vices, and the pernicious effects of their novelties in religion. As the true Church is one, by its members submitting with humility to the authority established by Christ, (he that will not hear the Church, let him be unto thee as the heathen and the publican. Matthew xviii. 17.) so are false teachers known by their separation from the ancient Church, and their divisions among themselves, the necessary consequences of rebelling against the authority established by Christ, and alone capable of determining controversies. The same pride and other secret vices which make them despise government, (2 Peter ii. 10.) make them also not afraid to bring in sects of perdition, blaspheming, and this in civil government as well as ecclesiastical. Those that call themselves Reformers, in the beginning of the 16th century, of all others were remarkable in this. What bloody tumults and wars were there not produced in Germany, by the first Reformers in that country! Calvin overturned the government of Geneva; and his followers, under the name Hugonots, filled France for a great length of time with slaughter and civil wars, frequently shaking the throne itself. In this country, the first cause of its separation from the universal Church, was the unbridled passion of a tyrant: the effects were adultery, and the murder of the successive queens that he had taken to his adulterous bed. In the reign of his successor, the insatiate avarice of a corrupt nobility, gratified with the sacrilegious plunder of the Church, established what is called the Reformation. The fear of being compelled to disgorge the fruits of their rapine, contributed much to the confirmation of that order of things in the reign of Elizabeth. She was inclined to it by the circumstances of her birth, which could not be legitimate, if her father's marriage with Catharine of Aragon was valid, as the first authority in the Catholic Church had declared. The natural spirit of this heresy, though checked a while and kept under by the despotical government of this queen, appeared in its own colors soon after, and produced its natural fruits in the turbulence of the times that succeeded, and the multiplicity of sects that are continually springing up to this very day [ed. note: As in all that has proceeded from Vatican II in the counterfeit church of conciliarism] --- As the true Church is holy, recommending various exercises of religion tending to purify human nature, and render men holy, as fasting, confession of sins, evangelical counsels, &c. so false teachers cast off all these, promising liberty, (2 Peter ii. 16.[19.?]) and giving full rein to the lustful passions, thus giving a liberty of living, as well as a liberty of believing. --- Another fruit of false teachers is, separation from what was the Universal Church before their time, and which continues to be still the far greater part, not being confined to one state or country. If some modern principles, of not allowing any communion of religion out of each state, were admitted, as many religions should have been established by heaven as men think proper to establish different states; nor could Christ have given one for all mankind, under whatever state or form of government they might live. --- Finally, false teachers are to known by their not being able to shew, that they have received their doctrine and mission from the apostles, in a regular succession from them. Some of our modern divines would spurn at the idea of holding their doctrine and orders from the Catholic Church, such as it existed at the time of the Reformation, which is precisely such as it exists at the present moment. --- In answer to this it has been retorted, that the fruits of the Catholic religion have been as bad, or worse; and the horrors of the French revolution are particularly mentioned, as a proof. ... That great crimes have been committed by those who professed themselves Catholics, is not denied; but that they were prompted to them by the nature of their religion, is certainly not admitted. The revolution of France in particular, was the effect of the people falling off from their religion. As well may the Puritans, that brought Charles to the block, be said to be Catholics, because they or their parents once had been such: as well may the present bench of Protestant bishops be said to be Catholics, because the bishops of their sees once were so; or that Robespierre, Marat, and the Jacobins that persecuted catholicity in France, and brought its too indulgent sovereigns to the guillotine, were Catholics, or directed in the least by Catholic principles. [ed. note: And again, including in these times, the Modernist Newchurch of Vatican II aka counterfeit church of conciliarism, aka 'those who follow Benedict XVI' just as those who followed Henry VIII.](Haydock)
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Commentary on Verse 17 It is not to be understood from this text, that a man who is once bad can never bring forth good fruit; but that as long as he remains in the state of sin, he cannot perform any meritorious action. (St. John Chrysostom, hom. xxiv.)
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit.
Commentary on Verse 18 A good tree cannot yield bad fruit, &c. Not but that both good and bad men may change their lives. This, according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers, is only to be understood while they remain such. If a bad tree begin to produce good fruit, it becomes a good tree, &c. (Witham) --- For not those who do one or two good works are just, but those who continue permanently to do good: in the same manner, not those who commit one or two bad actions are wicked, but those who continue in evil. (Menochius) (Non potest Arbor bona, &c. St. Jerome on this place, brings divers examples to shew, that men's natures are not necessarily or unchangeably good or bad. See St. Augustine, lib. ii. de Serm. Domini in Monte. chap. xxiv. p. 232. Non potest esse nix calida, cum enim calida esse cæperit, non jam eam nivem, sed aquam vocamus. See also St. John Chrysostom om kg, pag. 168. linea 1. Edit. Savil.)
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.
21 Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven: but he that doth the will of My Father Who is in Heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
Commentary on Verse 21 Here Jesus Christ shews, that it is not sufficient to believe in him and hear his words, but that in order to salvation, we must join works with faith; for in this shall we be examined at the last day. (Menochius) --- Without faith they could not cry out, Lord, Lord. (Romans x.) But the strongest faith without the works of justice, will not be available to salvation. (1 Corinthians xiii.) (Bristow) --- Many who have the Lord continually in their mouths, but care little about putting on the Lord, or penetrating themselves with his true spirit, will find their presumption, and the false consciences they have made to themselves, wofully disappointed. (Haydock) http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2013.htm#article4Article 4. Whether choice is of those things only that are done by us?Objection 1
. It would seem that choice is not only in respect of human acts. For choice regards the means. Now, not only acts, but also the organs, are means (Phys. ii, 3). Therefore choice is not only concerned with human acts.
Further, action is distinct from contemplation. But choice has a place even in contemplation; in so far as one opinion is preferred to another. Therefore choice is not concerned with human acts alone.Objection 3.
Further, men are chosen for certain posts, whether secular or ecclesiastical, by those who exercise no action in their regard. Therefore choice is not concerned with human acts alone.
On the contrary,
The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 2) that "no man chooses save what he can do himself."
I answer that,
Just as intention regards the end, so does choice regard the means. Now the end is either an action or a thing. And when the end is a thing, some human action must intervene; either in so far as man produces the thing which is the end, as the physician produces health (wherefore the production of health is said to be the end of the physician); or in so far as man, in some fashion, uses or enjoys the thing which is the end; thus for the miser, money or the possession of money is the end. The same is to be said of the means. For the means must needs be either an action; or a thing, with some action intervening whereby man either makes the thing which is the means, or puts it to some use. And thus it is that choice is always in regard to human acts.Reply to Objection 1.
The organs are ordained to the end, inasmuch as man makes use of them for the sake of the end.Reply to Objection 2.
In contemplation itself there is the act of the intellect assenting to this or that opinion. It is exterior action that is put in contradistinction to contemplation.
Reply to Objection 3.
When a man chooses someone for a bishopric or some high position in the state, he chooses to name that man to that post. Else, if he had no right to act in the appointment of the bishop or official, he would have no right to choose. Likewise, whenever we speak of one thing being chosen in preference to another, it is in conjunction with some action of the chooser.