“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Wise as serpents, innocent as doves
Reflecting on this Gospel passage, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote that Jesus called his followers to foster two competing qualities: a tough mind and a tender heart. Jesus sends his friends into the world – the real world in real time with real people. The world of complex issues with conflicting demands, where relationships might be strained, broken and in need of healing.
Mature disciples engage in hard, serious thinking rather than settle for convenient answers. And the mature have hearts shaped with tenderness open to the beauty of loving others. Tough mindedness without tenderheartedness is cold and hard. Tenderheartedness without tough mindedness is sentimental and aimless. Jesus demands both. We must courageously combine the tough and tender to allow God to surround us with justice and grace.
God of Love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters. Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister. Make us sensitive to the plea of our citizens who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace, our trepidation into confident trust, and our quarreling into forgiveness.
Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words “division,” “hatred” and “war” be banished from the heart of every man and woman. Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. Renew our hearts and minds, so that our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam!
—Pope Francis, invocation for peace, June 8, 2014