HOMILY THEME: Innocent as Doves but Wise as Serpents.

BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu


HOMILY: Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30, Psalm 37 and Matthew 10:16-23

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

In today’s first reading, we saw how Jacob whose name had been changed to Israel finally moved to Egypt along with his entire household and everything he possessed. Even though Joseph sent some chariots from Egypt to fetch him, Jacob waited to hear from God before accepting to move. We are told that God spoke to Israel in visions of the night giving him the green light to go.

We learn from Jacob the need for prayer before taking any major decision in life. Even when everything seems to suggest that a particular decision is the best option to take, there is still a need for us to consult God in prayer. This is why we say that prayer is not one-way traffic, (we do not simply go to God to offload our worries). Prayer is dialogue. While speaking to God, be silent deep within so that you too can hear from God.

Meanwhile, in today’s Gospel passage Jesus continues his instructions to his twelve disciples who were being sent out on a mission. Today, Jesus opens up to them the difficult challenges in spreading the word of God. Jesus told them that they were sheep in the midst of wolves. This analogy perfectly describes Christianity even in our day. Being a child of light is like swimming against the tide. There has never been a time when Christians were loved by the world. We continue to remain the direct object of persecution, hatred, misunderstanding, mockery and all kinds of attack.

Within the last year alone, the number of Christians who have lost their lives in this country for the sake of the faith is alarming. A Pastor went out to preach with a microphone early in the morning in Abuja and was brutally murdered. To this day, no investigation or arrest has been made. Two priests and twenty-two parishioners were killed right inside a church, nothing was done. Leah Sharibu remains detained by Boko Haram, just because she refused to denounce her Christian faith. We can go on and on giving examples. The truth is that we have a government in power that supports, encourages and empowers terrorists who persecute Christians.

On the other hand, we must note that there are wolves within the Christian body itself who attack from within; wolves with sheep clothing. These wolves among us are even more dangerous, they cause greater havocs through direct and vicious attacks. This is what Jesus meant by “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child and children will rise against parents and put them to death.” Bad Christians who fill up seats in church daily are worse than non-Christians who openly declare their hatred for the faith. Bad priests and pastors who cause scandals drag more souls to hell than traditional worshipers or Muslims who have nothing to do with the faith.
Given the external and internal attacks we face as Christians, how then are we to succeed as sheep in the midst of these fierce wolves surrounding us in all sides? Jesus recommends two things: One, the Wisdom of the Snake and Two, the Innocence of the Dove.

Amongst all the animals, the snake can be said to be the most hated but how come it has not gone extinct? The snake is a very wise animal, it knows it is not strong so it hardly engages in physical combat, it tries to win the trust of others (like the case of Eve), as soon as it senses danger, the snake runs very fast in a zig-zag manner. (if they persecute you in one town, flee to the next). However, the snake is not innocent, it carries a poisonous substance within which is called venom. This is why Jesus added we must be innocent as a dove (harmless, sinless, loving). It is interesting to note that the dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is saying we must have the Holy Spirit within us always such that when asked to defend our faith, the Holy Spirit will speak on our behalf.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me courage, wisdom and grace to live a holy and innocent life that I may remain a sheep and not become a wolf. Amen

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Friday of the 14th week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30, Psalm 37 and Matthew 10:16-23).

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