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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

Lambs Among Wolves

''Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.''

(Luke 10:3 NKJV)

In what is known as the mission of the seventy, Jesus provides indications to the first group of disciples, sent to precede Him to the places where he intends to go. But first He offers them one of the clearest images of what their experience would have been: “as lambs among wolves”. I realize how, however, one can be amazed or be perplexed by listening to these words. It is madness for a shepherd to send his sheep in the midst of a pack of wolves, but the Master uses strong language and always manages to be extraordinary, in the sense of being out of the ordinary. He certainly isn't sending them into trouble, nor is he going to put them in danger. The scene of sheep among wolves also offers a numerical sense, where most of it is evidently represented by wolves. We are faced with a paradoxical situation: the sheep is invited to go among the wolves to love them, guide them in the truth at the risk of their own safety. In fact, leaving the metaphor, Jesus reminds the disciples to speak of faith without fear, with the courage and frankness that the sheep does not possess but that the Spirit would provide.

The passage could represent the synthesis of the epochal challenge between evangelical utopia and worldly realism. The first believes in the possibility that lambs go among wolves and manage not only to survive, but to change the disposition and ways of potential enemies. The second smiles and grins in front of this attempt, because the wolf has always eaten the sheep and things will always be like this, at the worstest, so the lambs will be meat for slaughter. But no! Nobody can stop me from continuing to believe that Christianity, despite what we are observing in our day, retains the strength to disturb consciences, to torment men lovingly, forcing them to God. In the empty chattering of many, we still hear some prophetic voice, in able to confront them with the challenges of peace, healing and hospitality, increasingly mistreated in a world where clear and certain points of reference are slow to rise, but which were salient in the mission in question. The Master's indication is a shock for anyone who wants to take action, a battle cry that should shake us to abandon a Christianity that is more and more like a living room, "armchair and slippers", reserved and private. Lo Spirit is at work to induce us to take the field without any fear. Even the smallest of lambs can do it, because he has behind him the strongest shepherd of any wolf that he will meet along the way: “He who hears you hears Me,he who rejects you rejects Me, andhe who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me” (v. 16).

However, it's worrying about the change in attitude of some, who, once they find the courage to get out of the fold, stop being sheep and dress up as wolves. Excess is always a fault. An ancient Latin saying went: "Homo homini lupus", that is, man is a wolf for men. Hence the idea that in order to live among wolves we must become a bit like wolves too. It seems to witness the reconstitution of a movement of zealots, such as those who in the time of Jesus wanted to force the advent of the kingdom of God by means of partisan retaliation against the Romans. They argued that if the people rose up against the occupying forces, God would certainly intervene on their behalf and restore David's kingdom. Messianic preaching was widely misunderstood. I see a dangerous trap hidden here. The Christian overcomes evil with good, he does not need strong and violent ways, to behave like evil to hide his real weaknesses. Instead, it is in the awareness of his own fragility and weakness that the Christian finds his strength. It may seem somewhat strange, but it is what the apostle Paul declares: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" ( 2 Corinthians 12:10).

If there is any truth that we must always keep in mind, it is precisely this: from a spiritual point of view, we are absolutely weak and we can do nothing alone. The next one is that God fulfills his power in our weakness, without ever leaving or abandoning us. I think it's time to get rid of arrogance, presumption, and wanting to impose our ideas at all costs. If we are "sheep" we will not have any violent or aggressive instincts, but we will let ourselves be led by the Good Shepherd.


Weekly Bible Reading

Plan #06 January 31, Exodus 25-26; Matthew 20:17-34 February 01, Exodus 27-28; Matthew 21:1-22 February 02, Exodus 29-30; Matthew 21:23-46 February 03, Exodus 31-33; Matthew 22:1

February 04, Exodus 34-35; Matthew 22:23-46 February 05, Exodus 36-38; Matthew 23:1-22 February 06, Exodus 39-40; Matthew 23:23-39

photo by AinaM,

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