Image: White winged doves, Arizona
The apostles are ready to embark on their mission as Jesus turns and gives them a final pep talk. Rather than fire them up with all kinds of hype about how glorious their task will be he gives them an honest breakdown of what they will probably encounter.
It is not easy to evangelize and Jesus warns that there will be plenty of people who have no desire to hear the Word of God, much less hear about the need to change their life around because of it. “It will be like being a sheep in the midst of wolves”, Jesus says. What an image to lay before them just as they are ready to set out on the road,
But Jesus does not do this to frighten or discourage them, he does it to prepare them and to let them know that, despite what they will encounter, they do not have to to be afraid. He promises that all the words they need to say will be given to them by the Spirit that will be with them at all times.
Even though it was his Father who created the world Jesus does not seem to mind calling it as it is. There is a lot of work to be done to return it to the paradise it once was. But the solution for fixing the problems around us still lies within our grasp though it will take some cunning and perseverance to make it happen.
“Be wise as serpants and innocent as doves”, we are told. We cannot be naive about what we are facing but we also cannot become discouraged or worn down by it. Worse yet we cannot fall into the trap of cynicism and thinking the same way others do who have given up trying to look for the good.
A teacher of mine told me a story about when his family moved into a run down part of the city that they lived in, in order to live a simpler life. The first spring his wife planted flowers in their front yard but after the first night someone had pulled them up and destroyed the small garden. Undeterred she planted more and the very same thing happened again. She tried once more and this time they were left alone. After a few days the woman went out to water her, now blooming flowers and to her great surprise saw that her next door neighbour had also planted flowers. After a few summers the street they lived on was awash with flowers and it brought a little joy into an otherwise bleak neighbourhood.
Hold on tight to the values that your faith taught you and do not fear those who make fun of your beliefs. Plant a flower. If we persevere change will happen.