The gospel reading of this 14th Sunday in ordinary times, Year C, (Luke 10:1-12, 17- 20), tells about Christ sending out his disciples to proclaim the good news of salvation while warning them, “I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves” (Vs 3). What a caution! It is not a very comforting statement, is it? We know what usually happens when lambs find themselves in the midst of wolves; they become lunch. No wonder, Peter had this to say, “Be sober and vigilant, for your enemy the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour, stand up to him, strong in faith…” (1 Peter 5:8).
Witnessing to Christ, in this day and age, is like lambs trying to prosper in the midst of wolves. It is pretty counter-cultural. It is so hard to boast in the Cross of Christ in a world that believes in the freedom of man to desire whatever he pleases and to seek pleasure wherever he wants; a world that no longer believes in the objective order; a world that has become so subjective that it believes in the maximum satiation of the human appetite. Our society seems fully determined to challenge everything that we, as Christians, hold holy and dear; everything that we have reverence for.
No wonder Peter used the words “sober” and “vigilant” in his advice to Christians. These words mean to watch out, to be alert, and to be spiritually sensitive to our status as objects of prey in this world. To be a “prey,” is to be a creature hunted, stalked, trapped, or entangled as a victim for the satisfaction of the predatory instincts of the stalker. So, we need to be alert to the hidden snares, deceptive tricks, wily schemes, and spiritual ambushes that the wolf has devised for the demise of the lamb. One of such slyest and favorite tricks of the devil is the attack on the mind of a Christian—plant a seed of doubt in the recesses of human thought or an emotional feeling of abandonment that questions God’s existence—the very beginnings of spiritual assassination. This is the struggle many of our young people and not so young adults face today—the illusion of being spiritual without being religious.
The truth is that we need spiritual wisdom in this beastly world to be able to detect the wily ways of Satan. We can do this by letting Christ be our greatest desire in this life; presenting “our bodies as a living sacrifice of praise, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1); striving daily to “love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind, and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Ref: Luke 10:27); understanding that all that I am and all that I have is from God and is for the prosperity of His kingdom on earth.
There is no doubt that “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12). It is the fear of persecution that allows our counter culture to win the fight against witnessing to Christ in our world. Yet, our Lord has this to say, “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” On this Sunday, let us join St. Paul as he declares “May I never boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14).