A reading from the gospel of Matthew 10:16-23
Jesus said to his Apostles:
16 “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.
17 But beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues,
18 and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans.
19 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.
20 For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21 Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
22 You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.
23 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.”
Reflection: Many people hate you for telling them the truth about themselves.
Many people do not want to hear the Good News. It is because most people want the status quo. They desire change in their family, in their society, and even in the world but they refuse to change themselves. It is easier and maybe enjoyable for them to live in their sinful ways. That is why, when you try to tell them to repent, they become resentful and even violent. They start to hate you for telling them the truth about themselves.
And so Jesus warned His apostles who did not receive much education and who were not train for public speaking. He warned them of the hardship, hatred and persecutions that they will encounter as they go out to perform their mandate of preaching the gospel.
Even in our ordinary life, witnessing or speaking the truth is dangerous. Jesus Himself experienced crucifixion and death for doing so. The same is true with the martyrs who died for their faith. It would be wrong to think that preaching the message of salvation in our time is easy.
Yet we do not cower in fear. Jesus gave us the assurance that those who will endure to the very end will receive just compensation. No need to worry about what to say because the Holy Spirit will provide us with the words and sentences to convey the message. All we need is simplicity, shrewdness and courage to do our mission.
Unlike politicians who overly promise a lot of good things to would-be followers and supporters, Jesus tells us the truth about discipleship. It is not easy because there will be trials and temptations. Yet, He also assures us of our reward that is far more worthy than silver and gold, that is, salvation of our souls.
Watch out your behavior. You may think you are a sheep but your words and actions are in fact those of a wolf. You might be one of the persecutors of the messengers of Christ! How many times have you discouraged a priest, a pastor or even a would-be disciples of Jesus because of your constant complaining? It can happen that by gossiping or criticizing too much, you have become a scourge to them. Let us instead keep praying for them and give them our utmost support.