Fr Roland Agrisola reads and reflects on the Gospel of Matthew (10: 16-23) in which Jesus forewarns his disciples of the difficulties they may face as they go out to proclaim the kingdom.
Fr Roland says, this Gospel is a continuation of the instructions of Jesus to the twelve apostles for their mission. The Lord tells them will face hostility; they will face persecutions; and how to behave in the midst of all this. The Lord tells them to ‘be cunning as serpents and yet as harmless dogs’. In other words, they are to use what is in their power to find ways to be safe and survive. They are to use just and reasonable means to protect themselves from danger but in such a way as not to compromise their mission, their integrity, their message.
The Lord also tells the apostles not to worry about how to speak and what to say, especially in those situations. In the midst of persecutions, the Lord assures them, they will be given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will, in a very special way, will come to their assistance to act and speak in them.
Fr Roland says, we are reminded today by the Gospel that facing hostility on account of the name of our Lord Jesus is part and parcel of being his missionary disciples. We know there is always the temptation for disciples to sugar coat the challenging aspects of the Gospel to avoid offending people or the temptation to pick and choose from the teachings of Jesus so as to avoid conflict, persecution and suffering.
As missionary disciples we are called to be faithful to God’s word; to be ready to speak his word even if people refuse to listen or are challenged by it; but always, in the most charitable and prudent way and this requires a special grace from God.
As we are reminded today, Fr Roland says, the Holy Spirit will come to our aid when we need the extra strength and courage to fulfil our mission.