Theodore the Commander & Great Martyr
Today we hear another sobering passage in which Jesus Christ warns us of the trials that we may face in following Him. Jesus is once more preparing His disciples, and warning them that they need to be prepared to suffer for His sake. However, in the midst of these trials, they are not to rely on their own strength, but are rather to trust in Him. When they face difficulty, it is the Spirit of the Father who will speak through them.
The advice that Jesus gives to His followers here has a certain paradoxical quality. Saint John Chrysostom writes:
He is teaching them a new sort of warfare. He sends them out exposed, with only one coat, barefoot and without a staff, without clothing or provisions. The manner of their battle array is entirely unimpressive. He calls them to allow themselves to be totally supported by the generosity of such as receive them. All this is to accentuate His unspeakable power. Then, to press this reverse strategy to its limits, He tells them to exhibit the gentleness of sheep, even though they are going out among wolves.
We see here how the Gospel once more turns the values of the world upside down. Just as Jesus Himself showed the strength of suffering love through His death on the Cross, so the early Church spread not because of worldly power, but because of another sort of power that the early Christians had learnt from their Master. As Saint Paul wrote, “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1:27)
We may also face difficult situations and may be unsure how to respond to them. We need to pray for wisdom when we meet such difficulties. But we also need to prepare ourselves for them by learning from Jesus Christ, and by patterning our lives after the example that He gives us. If we remain close to Him and truly make His words our own, then we will be able to hear His voice in our hour of need.
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 10:16-22:
The Lord said to his disciples, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”