Sheep, Wolves, Serpents, and Doves
"See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16 NRSV
If you've watched the Wizard of Oz, you may recall the line, "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!" The Tin Man says it in reply to Dorothy's inquiry about what they might expect on the journey to Oz ahead. Then Dorothy, Tin Man, and Scarecrow, linking arms, chant this line until the next thing they hear is the roar of the Lion. Toto, of course, skips merrily along, oblivious to the concerns of the potential dangers ahead.
In this chapter, Jesus prepares the disciples for their first mission trip. Not yet to the Gentiles and Samaritans, but to their people. The group from which they would receive the most significant opposition. Jesus knows what they are to face and coaches them on how they should deliver the Good News. At the same time, they were to be meek as lambs and watch for the wolves; they were prey to the predators. They should remain as pure as the dove, yet not be naive and ignorant. In summary, they were to carry Christ's message into the world while remaining free from its sinful traps.
We should heed the same advice today as we evangelize to the word. We mustn't be Toto's, skipping along blissfully ignorant of what might lie ahead. Instead, as we travel on our spiritual journey, we must be wary of the "lions and tigers and bears" that lay ahead. We can't stop, turn around, and retreat but press forward with the confidence the Jesus who sends us goes with us.
Jesus, prepare us to go in humility and your wisdom into the world today. Grant that our actions be those of kindness and gentleness and the words from our lips convict, convince and convert. May this all be for your greater glory. Amen.