Look, I send you out like sheep among wolves. You must be as clever as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard with people, for they will hand you over to their courts, and they will flog you in their synagogues. You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings because of me, so that you may witness to them and the pagans.
But when you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say, or how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given 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 his brother to death, and a father his child; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but whoever stands firm to the end will be saved.
When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, you will not have passed through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
In the past couple of generations, three men have changed the face of their respective countries for the better because each one of these three men, despite enormous pressures exerted on them, decided to free their enslaved people through purely peaceful means. These three men are Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), who freed India from British colonialism, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), who obtained for the black citizens of America equal rights, and Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), who liberated South Africa from the racial segregation of apartheid. Two of these three men, Gandhi and King, were assassinated, and the third one, Mandela, was imprisoned for 27 years because of his opposition to his government’s policies.
In today’s gospel reading Jesus tells us: “I send you out like sheep among wolves.“ That is exactly what Gandhi, King and Mandela were. By relying only on peaceful means, they accepted to be sheep among wolves. And this tactic succeeded. In fact, it always succeeds—provided you are ready to pay the price for it. At the same time, we are told to be “clever as snakes,” namely, to use prudence, wisdom, reflection. While being innocent as doves, we must not be naive.
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