Artful Christians

– Friday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time –

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” [Matthew 10:16]

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples be wary of the ‘wolves’ who would persecute them, and to avoid their traps by being “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

Jesus, as the wolves’ chief target, certainly walked the walk on this one. Throughout the gospels, Jesus can be seen outwitting his adversaries. For instance, when the Pharisees seek to entrap him with the question, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Jesus confounds them when he asks to see the coin used for the tax and, pointing to the Caesar’s head on the coin, replies that one must give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. Likewise, he outmanoeuvres the scribes and Pharisees when they ask him whether a woman caught in the act of adultery should be stoned – as the Mosaic Law required – by forcing her accusers to concede their own infidelities: “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Whatever its historical accuracy, Fred Zinnemann’s A Man for All Seasons (based on a play by Robert Holt) is a film in which Christ’s counsel to be wise and innocent is encapsulated.  In the character of Thomas More, one finds a masterful example of the kind of wisdom and prudence that Christians ought to exercise in times of political persecution.

Let us pray today for an abundance of maturity and integrity so that we too may be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

by Mark Makowiecki

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