9th July 2021
HE LEADS US TO GREEN PASTURES
Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30
Psalms 37:3-4, 18-19, 27-28, 39-40
“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone”. We see in today’s readings two instances where people had to move out of their comfort zone.
In our first reading we have heard about Jacob, who in his old age was embarking on the journey to the land of Egypt, as he had just heard the unbelievable news that Joseph, his son, whom he thought to be long dead, was in fact still alive and was a great man in Egypt. Jacob heard all of these from his other sons who had once told him that Joseph was seized by wild beasts and was killed. A plot they did due to their jealousy to Joseph’s preferential treatment by Jacob.
After all those years, Jacob who had grieved over the loss of one of his beloved sons, heard again the message of hope, and he wanted to see his long-lost son. The Lord spoke to Jacob, reassuring him that he had nothing to fear from the journey, and that God Himself would accompany him and his family. He reassured Jacob that He would always be by his side no matter what and always provide for the Israelites. Jacob and the family had to make a step further by leaving their comfort zones and embark on a journey to Egypt.
In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the moment when the Lord told His disciples that their commitment to Him and the mission which He has entrusted to them would see them facing plenty of obstacles and trials, as they might encounter severe persecutions, oppressions and challenges from the powerful, from the state and the authorities, and all those who were opposed to the Lord and His truth and works. This is the reality which the Lord did not hide but instead, reveal plainly before all of His disciples.
Jesus commissions his disciples saying “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” The disciples had to leave the comfort zone of being with the Lord. Being with the Lord was like being sheep with the shepherd – safe and secure, confident and fearless. Now they are being sent among wolves by themselves.
Truly, we are sheep among wolves, as the principalities and powers of the world show great hostility to our Faith. And yet, Jesus still sends us out to preach this faith, telling us to be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.
So what does Christ mean by this?
Serpents are often viewed as clever, wise or crafty. The snake, in its shrewdness, can judge a situation accurately and turn it to his advantage. We are called to embody that same shrewdness. We must be able to judge situations accurately and respond with whatever will bring the greatest possible glory to God. We often see in the Bible that Jesus values cleverness. Jesus wants us to be clever, he wants us to be smart in how we spread the Kingdom of God.
To be wise as serpents therefore means, we must be willing to use all the tools at our disposal to spread the Gospel. Be shrewd – when lies are put forth, expose them for what they are. Be simple – share the Gospel message of God’s love and have the desire to live holy lives; to repent our sins and draw closer to Christ.
In both cases, there was a divine purpose. It was to bring about a change in their life. Change for the better – to make them strong and more efficient. It was not a desertion from the part of God but an assertion that God is beyond time and space, an assertion that he is not a God of place but a faithful God of persons.
Are we ready for a change, or are we quite comfortable with what we are and where we are? Change does not happen if we are stagnant. Being motionless means that we are held down by something. To reach our goal we need to move in a particular direction. Movement means we should be ready to give up something. Only by moving out of our comfort zone, can we fully experience and learn to trust the comfort of God’s presence in our lives.
My friends, the world needs you now more than ever. Don’t let fears and insecurities hold you back.