Taming the Wolves In Our Midst
“The necessity of the times, more than ever, calls for our utmost circumspection, deliberation, fortitude, and perseverance.” ~ Samuel Adams
For newly ordained priests fresh out of the seminary, older and more seasoned ones as well, it would appear that they are faced with the following choice: they can teach the fullness and richness of the Gospel, thereby opening themselves up to scorn, ridicule, backlash, and hate. The alternative of course is to soft-pedal the Gospel, avoiding the difficult teachings while placating those who wish to remain mired in their sinfulness.
....thereby opening themselves up to scorn, ridicule, backlash and hate.
In light of the gloomy heads you win, tails I lose reality these men of God face, it would appear as though the first option is the smart play, especially considering the eternal consequences for all parties involved. So with that in mind, Jesus offers his newly-minted Shepherds this sure warning in today’s Gospel (Matthew 10:16-23):
“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men, 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.”
The plight of the good priest who goes forth into the world teaching the truth is well chronicled. Perhaps you’ve known a Priest who has experienced the vitriol, encountered the hate, dealt with the anonymous incendiary letters to the the Bishop, and undergone the persecution that he is sure to endure in the name of God. We too will experience it in our lives, whether it be subtly or not so subtly.
But our Lord does not expect us to walk this secular, wolf-ravaged landscape unarmed or unprotected. We are fully armed with the Gospels, the very words and teachings of Jesus, a perfect life lived perfectly, one which we are called to emulate to the best of our ability.
And then there are the Sacraments. Sacraments are serious business. They fill the hearts of the faithful with grace, and grace leads to change. But change can of course be painful. Perhaps that’s why so many avoid them, oftentimes for instance going years without partaking of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But rather than cower and retreat from the Sacraments, we must strive to instead go forth and, as Saint Ambrose said, “Enjoy the fragrance of eternal life breathed upon us by means of the Sacraments.”
There is no need to fear the wolves in our midst, for Jesus promises to never leave our side. Equipped with the Gospel teachings to serve as our road map and the Sacraments to serve as our armor, we can be sure that we will always know the way and that we will always be protected along that way.
“Lord, there are a multitude of ravenous wolves in the world disguised as sheep, just waiting to pounce on the weak, the needy, the helpless, the hopeless and those who lack knowledge of your word. We ask not only for your protection but your assistance. Lord Jesus, help them. Open their eyes that they would see. Unblock their ears that they would hear. Soften their hearts that they would feel.” ~ Amen