Here is a homily from:
Wondering what is thought of ‘being cunning’…what did Jesus mean, how do you interpret this reading into your daily life…
JULY 8, 2005FRIDAY 14TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIMEMATTHEW 10:16-23Jesus said to his Apostles: "Behold, I am sending you like sheep inthe midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.But beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourgeyou in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors andkings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When theyhand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what youare to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. Forit will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speakingthrough you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the fatherhis child; children will rise up against parents and have them put todeath. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoeverendures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in onetown, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish thetowns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
"REFLECTIONThe words of Jesus in today’s gospel are words of warning accompaniedby words of promise. He tells his apostles that they are being sentout “as sheep among wolves” and therefore they (we) must be "cunningas serpents and yet as harmless as doves.“Jesus then goes on to describe coming persecutions when his discipleswill suffer, but he also promises that the Holy Spirit will be thereto provide whatever is needed for the apostles’ ministry.Most Christians find it easy to understand being like sheep amongwolves or being as harmless as doves. This is often interpreted tomean that we should be meek and humble like sheep or doves. What weoften overlook is that Jesus also asks us to be as “cunning asserpents.” What could this mean? Are we to imitate the serpent inGenesis who enticed Eve to eat the forbidden fruit?Maybe not, but there is still a place for being “cunning” in aChristian’s life, and perhaps it has to do with discerning the needsof every time and place. We are asked not only to be meek and humblefollowers or servants (sheep and doves), but also to be cunning-tounderstand the ways of the world and to do what is necessary toproclaim the Gospel, even if it involves suffering and persecution.St. Benedict was a “cunning” saint. Living in the early sixthcentury, he noticed the moral decay in society and even in theexisting monasteries, so he started reforming monasteries andeventually wrote the famous Rule of St. Benedict. This later becamethe norm for Western monasticism. Rather than promote excessive self-denial among monks, Benedict envisioned a community that balancedwork and prayer (ora et labora) and sought to be a school of holinessrather than a group of individuals competing for holiness. Hestressed interior conversion rather than external manifestations ofpiety.In the middle ages, the monasteries became models of an alternativeworld ruled by the spirit of Christ. Where extreme social hierarchyruled, the monasteries presented an ideal of social equality. Whenmanual labor was derided, they affirmed the spiritual value of work.When culture and education was disintegrating, they maintainedpockets of learning and civilization. Where violence ruled, theypreached and lived in peace. The Benedictine monasteries challengedthe prevailing values in the world, and we are called to do the samein our world.We must be cunning as serpents and harmless as doves.PRAYER"Lord, help me to patiently and joyfully accept the hardships,adversities, and persecution which come my way in serving you.Strengthen my faith and give me courage that I may not shrink backfrom doing your will”.