“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.” -Matthew 10:16
I am on the road currently for some parish visits. I spent the day interacting with parish staff, having some great conversations about faith, praying in several adoration chapels that were open 24/7, and looking at some beautiful churches.
I got into my hotel room after a workout, flipped open my laptop, and found an unsettling video on my news feed. If you haven’t seen the Michelle Wolf video applauding abortion, it is not worth watching. It was enough to make even the biggest optimist sit on the edge of his bed on the verge of tears and just pray for our world. I must admit that every part of me felt defeated and I just wanted to hide.
I searched for the daily readings desperate for some hope from the Word of God and I open to this happy verse, “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves.” It really hit me tonight, being a Christian is hard. But it is hard for a reason I did not want to admit to myself. It is hard because I would rather play the victim and sit in my disgust for the world than look at my own heart. It is hard because I would rather gossip about a coworker or friend than admit my own faults. It is hard because I would rather preach the Gospel in an easy manner like this, than help people in my own family to realize the power, mercy, and love of God.
Some of us love to cower. We protect our ego, sometimes without realizing it, and fear starts to hold us back.
We don’t need to be a Church that mimics a horrible team. An effective team uses their defense to prevent bad from happening and to progress the ball forward. An effective team uses their offense to score a goal and win while maintaining good sportsmanship with the opposing team that stems from the common humanity of all the players.
An ineffective team’s defense cowers in fear only to eventually be pushed so far back that the undesired event they were trying to prevent repeatedly occurs and is allowed. An ineffective team’s offense scores a goal solely to prove they are stronger, faster, wiser, and better in every way than the opposing team: the epitome of pride.
It seems recently that as the lay faithful we can be in the position to either be constantly on the defensive by a significant portion of society, being pushed further and further into dismay and not making progress in spreading the Good News, or we are on the offensive desperately trying to spout apologetics in the hope of winning the argument over the soul.
Now this isn’t a fluffy “just love people” point that I am trying to make, but rather I want to call us all out: calling us not only to feel good love but to the kind of love that makes us all into Saints.
What is the reason we read blog posts like these? Is it to help us grow in faith so we can go out like the early Christians and preach the Good News, trying to invite people into a relationship with God, or is it because we are comfortable hearing from people who think exactly like us?
Why do we form groups and bible studies at church? Is it to learn the scriptures and invite the outcast in or is it because the world out there is so bad that we would rather maintain our own safe world inside these groups?
The Gospel Today could not be more clear. We are being sent out as sheep amongst wolves, but we must go out shrewd and simple. We must go out with our intellect and empathy. We must meet people where they are at and not leave them there, just as we don’t want to be left where we are. We must come together as a good team and help one another to grow in the fullness of faith and love, which is Love Himself and love for our neighbors.
I have thought a lot about teams lately because I am getting married exactly three months from today. I am so thankful to have formed the best team with my beloved, Nathalie. I am so thankful that God has brought us together to start a team of our own and form our family in going out and helping the world realize the love of the Creator.
So I challenge you and remind myself: what kind of team are you going to form today, tomorrow, and for the rest of your life? An ineffective team that cowers in fear or lunges out in anger (either way causing division), or an effective team that is willing to put aside their comfort, pride, and ego, ready to go out and lead with love? Decide and then act.
Tommy Shultz is a Solutions Evangelist for Diocesan. In that role, he is committed to coaching parishes and dioceses on authentic and effective Catholic communication. Tommy has a heart and a flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. His mission and drive have been especially inspired by St. John Paul II’s teachings. Tommy is blessed to be able to learn from the numerous parishes he visits and pass that experience on in his presentations. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.