‘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.
Today is Friday, the 12th of July in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time.
Nóirín Ní Riain, with the monks of Glenstal Abbey, sings the Beatitudes.
Today’s reading is from the Gospel of Matthew.
Not a very enticing prospect for the followers of Jesus – being sent out to be flogged, betrayed, hated and put to death. To paraphrase St Theresa of Avila, “If this is what you promise your friends Lord, then it’s not surprising you have so few! “But notice that the followers are not sent out in order to suffer, but rather it is the way of the world that people who hold firm to the truth, to love, honesty and integrity, will find themselves persecuted. How does this reading make you feel? Be honest, and offer it to God.
We are not called to be naïve and innocent, but rather we are called to understand the ways of the world, and as far as possible, without loosing our integrity, be aware of possible dangers and avoid them. Can you remember a time when you have acted in this way?
Listen again to our reading and look this time for the words and phrases that you find uplifting, comforting.
Ask God for the courage to stand up for your values and what you believe in, and the wisdom to know when this is necessary.