“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus sends his disciples “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt 10:6). It turns out these “lost sheep” are more like wolves: “they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues.”
Isn’t it true today, too, that the “lost sheep” can be like wolves? Some of the most anti-Christian rhetoric comes from those who have fallen away from the Church. Perhaps because the Church has hurt them somehow, “lost sheep” can launch bitter, painful attacks against Christianity. Many lost sheep are among our own families, which makes their jabs hurt even more.
This week Jesus missions us to bring his love precisely to these people — to listen to them, hear their pain, and extend a hand of reconciliation. Is there a “lost sheep” to whom Jesus is sending you? Ask the Spirit to show you how to love that person today.
Pray! This is what Jesus advises us: ‘Pray for your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Pray!’ And say to God: ‘Change their hearts. They have a heart of stone, but change it, give them a heart of flesh, so that they may feel relief and love.’
—Pope Francis, from his June 18, 2013 homily