Friday Focus: Love Among the Wolves
But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.' "Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me." The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:1-11; 6-20
In Indonesia Christian schoolgirls are dragged from a bus and beheaded. In Egypt ancient Coptic communities have simply been obliterated. In Sudan Christian villages have been bombed and strafed routinely. In Nigeria entire congregations are rounded-up, gunned down and left to rot. In India venerable Anglican churches are burned to the ground while the faithful are hacked to death. In Palestine, Iraq and Syria, “ethnic cleansing” has reduced Christian communities to a pitiful few, elderly survivors. In this week’s gospel, Jesus warns his disciples that he is: “…sending you like lambs among the wolves.” Two-thousand years later, the pack is still circling. And the lambs are being slaughtered.
Yet Jesus urges us on: The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few. In this gospel Jesus tells us that our faith is not a private matter. We are meant to proclaim it in word and deed. In the face of persecution, to be a Christian is not to slink through life in a defensive crouch. We are here to build God’s kingdom, not bury it in our hearts. That’s not empty, tough talk. There is no bluster or bravado in Jesus. There is no macho in his message. In this gospel Jesus does not order us to mandatory martyrdom. At the same time denying Christ is not an option and neither is revenge.
Jesus is telling us that love among the lambs is easy. Love among the wolves is hard. So what to do? The love of Christ is all we have. But it is more than enough, if we work at it every day. He calls us to make a simple one-on-one transaction. When hated, we love. When insulted, we love. When slandered, we love. That is what Christians do. We love the persecuted and the persecutors. Each one of us is the custodian of Christ’s love. We live in it. We build it. We must share it… with the lambs and with the wolves. That’s why we are here.