St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin

Reading Genesis 46:1-7,28-30
Gospel Matthew 10:16-23

“‘Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves….’”

Jesus was always realistic during His earthly life. So it’s no surprise that He says to His Apostles, “I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves”. His words were true in the first century, and are so also today.

What is surprising is His subsequent command: “be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.” What does it mean for Jesus’ followers to “be shrewd as serpents”? We might recoil from His command because we associate the serpent with the Devil. So what can His words mean?

One of the simplest ways to understand Jesus’ words is to look at His actions. After all, Jesus practiced what He preached. While it’s true that on Calvary Jesus was the sheep that opened not His mouth [see Isaiah 53:7], during the three years of His public ministry He acted differently. For example, at the beginning of His ministry in Galilee, when Jesus infuriates the people in the synagogue with His preaching, the people try to kill Jesus, but “He passed through the midst of them and went away” [Luke 4:16-30]. One lesson for us disciples

is to know that conflict will inevitably arise from our fidelity to the Gospel, but that with shrewdness we may often find safety with the Lord.