The gospel is supposed to be life at its best, but it also presents life at its worst. What’s worse than being a lamb among wolves? Than living with people who don’t support you and in fact hate you? Than having people beat you with whips? Than having your own brothers and sisters turn against you? Than having people throw you out of town?
Can it get worse than that? You’ll experience all these things, Jesus says in today’s gospel to the Twelve and those who go out with them.
Today’s gospel from Matthew is part of the commissioning of disciples whom Jesus sends as heralds of the kingdom of heaven. They have power to “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and drive out demons.” Great powers. But that’s not all. They must exercise these powers in the real world.
We can’t forget we live in the real world that Jesus describes in today’s gospel. His way of living in this world is unique. He doesn’t send out armed divisions or powerful super salespeople, but vulnerable lambs. Yet, his lambs are stronger than wolves. Don’t be awed by governors and kings or crushed by adversity or rejection, Jesus says. Just listen to the “Spirit of your Father speaking in you,” and you’ll have wisdom enough.
Even if you’re thrown out of one town, another town waits for the coming of the Son of Man. The real world is not as strong as it seems.