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Shrewd as serpents and simple as doves

reflections

Gospel: Mt 10:16-23

JESUS said to his Apos­tles: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as ser­pents and sim­ple as doves. But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

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Jesus is honest and forthright in dealing with the Apostles. He does not hoodwink them into believing that their mission will be soft and easy. He paints the mission field in its stark reality.

To begin with, Jesus points out to the Twelve that the field is fraught with dangerous elements. These people, sometimes fierce and cunning, can be compared to wolves. They can be very harmful and destructive. Jesus counsels his Apostles to be like sheep and simple as doves but discerning like serpents, not to be naïve and gullible.

Neither should the Apostles succumb to a paralysis of fear and inaction. Jesus gives them the assurance that, when filled by the Holy Spirit, they will be empowered with boldness and courage, and will even be supplied with words coming from the Spirit. They will be opposed or rejected by their closest re­lations, but this should not deter them from moving on with their mission, and instead explore new territories.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publish­ing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

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