Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot
Today Jesus continues with His warnings against the rejection that His apostles will surely experience because of the Gospel. Can you imagine the love that these men must have had for Christ if, even after this litany of misfortunes, they were still willing to go out into the world? Do we have such a love for Christ?
Look at the reading for today: we are to be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. Does Jesus want us to be duplicitous? Of course not, but He doesn’t want us to be fools, either. We must know the Gospel and know how to give an explanation of our faith (1 Peter 3:15-16), to dance toe-to-toe with those who would seek to trip us up. If we find ourselves drug out in front of all manner of powerful people we needn’t be afraid of what we are to say; Jesus promises that our love of God will allow the Spirit of His love to inspire just what we are to say. We need only to look to the stories of so many martyrs who gave a beautiful defense of the faith before they received their eternal reward.
Perhaps the most jarring warning of all is that of the hatred the followers of Jesus will experience because of Him. Here Jesus is sending His apostles out to spread the love of the Father to all the lost sheep of Israel, all this after a seemingly successful tour of miracles and showing the love of God to large crowds: hatred? Yes; it is the story of the Fall. There are, sadly, those who will not only reject the Gospel and the love of God but also those who will come to hate the Gospel and those who preach it in the world. Jesus tells us to flee such people and places, but we know all too well the many martyrs of the Church’s past as well as its present; we know that this is not always possible.
Saint Benedict was no stranger to this reality; there is a reason he is invoked as a patron saint against poisoning (several attempts were made against him by his own monks). If our task of spreading the news of the Father’s love in the world were to end with today’s reading, it would seem like a hopeless endeavor. Fear not; the final word on this matter comes tomorrow.