Sunday of the Fathers 5.24.2015
The wolf in nature usually hunts in packs, they learn how to attack, they are coordinated and they are intelligent. The wolf is highly territorial, and keeps others at bay that threatens their area of control. When looking for their prey, wolves sometimes track by scent, or sometimes by chance them follow them watching where they go. When they find their prey they stalk their prey, taking their time, coordinating their attack, and then, when close enough, they rush their prey. Whether the prey stands its ground or runs, the wolf will use the same tactic. The wolf will bite chunks out of their prey, attempting to make them bleed enough, to weaken them and come in for the kill. The wolf rarely attacks head on, usually attacking from the side or the rear, they will continue their assault until they bring down their prey. In nature, we marvel at their coordination, but in the scriptures, the wolf is compared to people who seek out and hurt, stalk and kill the Christian. And, even today, this idea, this concept has not changed. There are those who still pursue and give chase to the faithful attempting to kill us and bring us to ruin.
In the scriptures we read different individuals speaking about the wolf or wolves. Jesus himself warns us, and the warning is so great that two of the Gospels give identical warnings. In Matthew and Luke, Jesus tells His disciples that He will be sending them into the world as lambs amongst wolves. Both of the Gospels give recount the same warning, Jesus knows what the world is, and what it is capable of. Then in the Gospel of John, Jesus warns that the hireling sees the wolf coming, but because the hireling sees his life more important than that of the flock, he runs away and leaves the flock unguarded and fallen prey to the wolf.
Jesus also warns that there will be those who come that are wolves, but will be deceitful and cunning because they will be wearing sheep’s clothing. They will be able to infiltrate and blend into the world and if we are not aware will allow these individuals to feed off of us and kill us right under our noses.
We also read in the Book of Acts at Saint Paul’s exploits, as he warns the people he leaves to mind the flock that savage wolves will come among them and not spare the flock. St. Paul understands this because he once was the wolf; he once preyed upon the Christians and persecuted them.
Do we not see the same happening today? The enemies of our faith circle us, stalk us, and take bits and pieces of us until there is nothing left. We attempt to stand our ground, we attempt to give God our allegiance, but we find ourselves sued, boycotted, insulted, punished or thrown in prison.
Jesus promised and warned us there would be persecution. He told us there would be a time where people would call what is good, evil and what is evil, good. He warns us of wars, rumors of wars, famine pestilence and above all hatred for all that is holy. We can label our wolves, we can see them coming, but sometimes they are insidious and cunning, they wait, they stalk, and they slowly approach us dressed as sheep.
None of us that are alive or will be alive is immune to the fact that evil exists, and the pack leader is Satan. He instructs his wolves, and they pay homage to him. They are slowly destroying our marriages, they attack our children, and they are eliminating our liberty and freedoms. Our freedom is no longer free, for the cost of being a Christian is high.
What are we to do in the face of adversity? Let us look to David, not the King of Israel, but the shepherd boy that watched the sheep of his father. He would fend off the wild animals with his sling and a bag full of rocks. Then one day, he found himself by a riverside collecting five smooth stones preparing to fight the Philistine champion, Goliath, whom he compared to the animals that he would face when protecting the sheep. Each of those stones he chose, were not at random. He had killed enough animals, and been through enough trial and error to know what stones traveled through the air when it was windy or raining or on a calm day. He knew and understood his weapons of warfare and he went onto the battlefield that day armed with the belief that he would not only fight Goliath, but kill him.
Christ promised us that He would never leave us of forsake us. He promised that He would send us the Holy Spirit, and be with us until the end of time. We need not fear or be afraid of anything and anyone, not even death. Just as David used his stones to kill Goliath, Jesus armed us with divine armament to help us fight the darkness. He taught us to pray, He taught us to be strong and courageous, and He taught us when persecution comes that death is not the end, it is only the beginning.
He left us with things to keep him in mind, to remember Him by. The most important lifeline to Heaven is communion - the Eucharist, and through this communion we have access to salvation. Of course, none of us are worthy to receive the precious gift of life, but Christ made us worthy on the day He gave himself up for His mission: to save mankind and to show us eternity with Him in paradise.
That is why He came. That is why so many have lived and died believing that there is a place where there is no more tears, no more pain or suffering. Christ gave us a glimpse of purity and holiness and a life without sin.
Since Jesus came into the world showing us the path of righteousness, many have tried to follow in his footsteps. Many hide themselves away at the monastery, some become priests and pastors, and the very few elite among the people of God live lives so closely to the path, that the church deems them as saints. I am positive that if were to ask any of the saints if they deserved the title, they would, without a shadow of a doubt say no. The path to God is filled with pitfalls, traps, temptation and sin. The path to salvation is one of the hardest paths there is to take, and we always, without fail have the wolves stalking and killing us.
There are those whose mission lies to destroy the church, they are enemies of Christ. Jesus forewarned that we should understand that the world will hate us, because they hated Him. We are not above and out of reach with hatred and fear, but we need to arm ourselves with the sling and five smooth stones just as David did.
Our stones are not rock, but our stones are prayer, worship, praise, the Church and scripture. We have all that we need to face our wolves, our Goliath, or whatever obstacle that stands before us. We have all that we need in this world to face the enemy, we need to only take a stand and understand that the world is only temporary, it is but a single fleeting moment that is here today and gone tomorrow. Any who live to see sixty or more can attest to the fact — where has the time gone?
The wolves of our life need only to be faced. We are the people of God, we are the chosen, we are the next saints, and we are the elect of God. We live to only glorify Him that showed us how to find Him once again. We live to press on and show our children what it means to be men and women of faith. All the wolves of this life want to bleed us dry, so that we give up and surrender. The wolves are real, they are deadly and they are able to be defeated when we trust in Christ to fend them off.