Today’s gospel reading portrays ominously the situation experienced by the Jesuits during the regional expulsions and their almost universal suppression. The warning given by Jesus –I am sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves– turned out to be a pertinent one at that time. It is also sadly pertinent today in more than one place of our world, even where there is no open physical attack on Christians.
Be therefore shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. Jesus invites us to a simplicity that is not naive, one that does not exclude a shrewd appraisal of reality, yet one that is not calculating or manipulative. Shrewdness belongs in the mind, simplicity belongs in the heart. When we are single-hearted (one of the be-attitudes), we do not use our head or power to manipulate others. Indeed we will not rely on our cleverness, even when called to give witness to our belief: ...do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say... If we live single-heartedly, if our lives are led and inspired by the Spirit of the Father, then we will speak from the fullness of our heart, not from the cleverness of our head, even as we use our minds (our “shrewdness) to articulate our witness in a non-naive form. What is important is to have our hearts filled with God’s Spirit, so that, when we are “tapped”, the right witness flows out.
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