Today’s Gospel: Matthew 10:16-23
In the Wisconsin woods, I was awakened at 4:30 AM by an eerie chorus. I could visualize the wolves: lurking, springing, then howling over a catch.
“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves.”
Doesn’t our Good Shepherd cradle sheep? Why would He send any into danger? Advice and other warnings unfold through Matthew. We are to be “shrewd as serpents.”
“Shrewd” implies a sharp and even cunning mind. Add that quality to adaptability, and you have a winning combo. Snakes and lizards are camouflage artists, fading easily into nature. During the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900s, priests in Mexico had to be wily, too. They wore disguises, even fake mustaches, to survive persecution, serve their people, and disappear over the border, into America.
Beyond shrewdness, Matthew urges we be “simple as doves.” Doves nestle. Preen each other. Coo. To be both shrewd and simple, implies peace that defies circumstances. In 2014, Meriam Ibrahim made the news with such calm, imprisoned in Sudan over religion.
“I was raised a Christian,” said this doctor and mother of two, when offered freedom if she turned Muslim. “I refuse to change.”
The trials awaiting Christians are daunting, warns Matthew: being handed over to courts and even “scourged.” But we are called to be a sign, a witness that will draw others to Christ. We should be willing to sacrifice to save others, even if we’re like a sheep amidst wolves. A sheep is mild. Vulnerable. Times may get bad. Even brothers, parents, children, will turn on each other. But we won’t be alone.
“For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
Condemned to die for her faith, Meriam Ibrahim insisted, “I am not giving up Christianity just so that I can live.” Would we show such courage and forbearance?
Meriam’s life was spared, Lord, but her willingness to die for You inspired the world. Help me love You boldly, in the face of life’s trials, large and small.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Marianna Bartholomew