Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
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 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.
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.”
Good News Reflection: Until the right moment comes, trust!
We are so impatient. We want to know right now that everything worrying us is going to turn out okay. Whatever relationship we’re struggling with, whatever task seems too hard, whatever wolves we are facing, we assume that we could deal with it better if only we knew the outcome and if only we could see that it will all be worthwhile.
So we try to envision the future. We think we can correctly guess what will happen to us if we stay on our present course of difficulties, and usually we predict disaster. If we’re not following Jesus, we’re probably right, but if we are doing what the Lord is asking of us, when anything that becomes troublesome, the biggest problem is self-made: We lose our patient trust.
God has a good plan that will benefit us as well as everyone else who’s part of our trial, and yet we worry. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus makes it clear that we are not to worry, because the Holy Spirit will help us when the moment comes. Not one second sooner.
Jesus says we’re to be like sheep in the face of the wolves who threaten our peace — sheep that are shrewd like serpents and simple like doves. He’s not telling us to be sheep that stand dumbly in the path of the wolf wearing a sign that proclaims, “Bite me, I’m standing still.” No, we’re to be clever (shrewd) enough to wait for the right moment before standing up to the wolf, and simple-minded (read that as “single-minded” not “stupid”) enough to trust that the Holy Spirit will provide the wisdom and the words when that right moment comes.
Living in the kingdom of God causes us difficulties. Jesus is very clear about that. And therefore, although we tell God that we really do want to serve him and we really do trust him, fear asks: “Is everything going to work out okay?” And then impatience demands that we get the answer now. How shallow is our relationship with God if we aren’t content to trust that the Holy Spirit is taking action on our behalf!
God is good to us. We have the Holy Spirit as our aid. There is nothing more reliable in the whole universe! The power of the wolves is really so much smaller, hugely smaller; in fact, it’s nothing compared to the power of our Lord who is at work in us.
If you can’t feel God’s power yet, if you cannot hear his wisdom or his words, at least trust that it’s there, already inside you like electricity waiting for the flip of a switch. You can’t feel it surging through you, because it’s not the right moment yet.
Pay attention. Keep your eyes on Jesus. The right moment will come. In the meantime, closely follow your Good Shepherd.
Thank You Lord, for Your Holy Spirit who is always working in my life. Grant me the grace of persevering in the trials and difficult moments I have to live. With my eyes on You, may I always walk giving thanks to You and praising Your Name. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica