08 July 2011

Wolves, sheep, doves, & snakes

N.B.  OK.  Here's my excuse for this homily.  Unbeknownst to me. . .my little 10 y.o. travel hardened alarm clock died in the night.  I came-to around 6am!!!  That's TWO hrs later than I usually wake up.  Lauds/Mass begin at 7.45am.  So, by the time the 'puter booted up and the coffee booted me up. . .well, there just wasn't much time.  Therefore:

14 Week OT (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St Albert the Great Priory

Wolves. Sheep. Serpents. And doves. That's quite a zoo living in Jesus' imagination this morning! In the wolf, we see a predator's singular focus on his prey and the cold cruelty of instinct. In the sheep, we have docility, innocence, and the need to be protected. Serpents are cunning, calculating, and dangerously patient. And doves are gentle and pure. Jesus says that he is sending us as prey among the predators, so we must learn to be both shrewd and gentle, both cunning and pure. How do we manage that? Our Lord assures us that when we are handed over to be prosecuted for treason or heresy, we need not worry about what we will say in our defense, “You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” But if we will be given what to say in our own defense at the moment of greatest need, then what is the purpose of learning to be both a serpent and a dove while living as sheep among the wolves? Before we can speak, we must listen.

Sheep are stupid animals. Too stupid to learn much of anything. Wolves are much, much more intelligent but they are largely driven by predatory instinct and not very obedient. So, Jesus is sending us to live as stupid animals among intelligent predators. But we are to be shrewd and gentle. OK. Serpents have a rep for being sly, patient, manipulative, so they would probably make good students but dangerous friends. Doves don't exactly inspire wonder with their smarts, but they are beautiful and they have a history of showing up at just the right time. Since the Spirit of the Father will be given to us when we need Him, our serpentine cunning and dove-like gentleness aren't really meant to be primary defenses against the wolves. Our primary defense is the Holy Spirit! Shrewdness and gentleness prepare us to receive the Spirit of the Father and to speak His Word. To receive His Spirit requires docility, and to speak His Word in the Spirit requires ingenuity. To receive His Spirit requires the peace of obedience, and to speak His Word in the Spirit requires the determination of a predator hunting his prey. 

Wolves will never fear sheep. Nor stop hunting them. And sheep will always need a shepherd to protect them. The Holy Spirit is our protector, and if we will hear Him speak to us, we will grow in obedience, docility, and trust. We will also strengthen our resolve to be preachers of the truth; to be wily promoters of God's justice and glowing examples of His mercy.  The Spirit of the Father will not speak with the voice of a hungry wolf or a sneaky snake. He chooses His sheep—sheep who are prepared (with His abundant help) to speak His Word and see It done. That is how we will endure.

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