Daily Reflection
June 27th, 2007

Elizabeth Furlong

School of Nursing
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When I read the first four lines of today’s Gospel about “false prophets coming in sheep’s clothes,” I immediately thought of an acquaintance who had some parallel behaviors to the warning in this Gospel. This individual forged friendships and relationships with others – only for many of us to discover he created a pattern of deception that unraveled. His deception has resulted in both financial and emotional havoc for two colleagues in particular.

Upon first reading of the Gospel, I had difficulty with the remainder of the Gospel – because I made a language parallel between “a good tree and a bad tree” with “a good person and a bad person.” I have a strong belief in separating a person from one’s behaviors, i.e., I do not see a person as good or bad. Rather, I evaluate behaviors as positive or negative. I believe we are all capable of behaviors on a positive to negative continuum.

So I struggle with the 21st century parallel language and meaning to the “good tree and the rotten tree.” One desired understanding is that the practice and re-iteration of positive behaviors results in a “good tree, i.e., a good person” – which, in turn, results in more positive behaviors by that person. If we believe (which I do) in the inherent dignity of each individual who is capable of positive behaviors and capable of change from negative behaviors, then one does not dismiss any individual as “a rotten tree.”

While there is pain and grief in my two above colleagues’ lives because of how they were deceived by the above individual, they live out the Christian dimension of recognizing his innate dignity. While they grieve his negative behaviors, i.e., his “bad fruits,” they, also, make a distinction between who he is and what his behaviors are. They do not dismiss him. They pray for his healing. I believe this is what I am called to do and practice.

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