By Bishop Robert F. Morneau
Behold I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves, so
be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves (Matthew 10:16).
Jesus was a realist. The world, although charged with the grandeur
of God, is also an environment scarred by sin and evil. There are wolves that
do violence to the sheep; there are individuals and nations that misuse the gift of
freedom. For centuries Christian writers spoke of life as a warfare, a battle unto
So Jesus gives two pieces of advice to the disciples, to us: Be shrewd!
Be simple! To ground these characteristics in his followers imagination, Jesus
points out the cunning of serpents and the simplicity of doves. These metaphors contain
a wealth of wisdom.
Be shrewd! When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about the payment of taxes,
they received an answer that foiled their plot to incriminate him. The wolves were
after the innocent Lamb. Jesus fended off their designs by distinguishing ones
double obligation to God and to the city of man. Jesus answered a question with a question,
thereby confusing his opponents. Jesus himself was shrewdin the ways of the Kingdom.
Shrewd, too, was Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who helped save
hundreds of Jews from Hitlers death camps. Living in a culture of hatred and
death, Schindler used his native intelligence, his material resources and the God-given
grace of compassion to thwart time and time again the work of the Nazis. Perhaps our
passage I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves
on his heart.
Be simple! In contrast to serpents that are bound to the earth and depend
upon deception for their survival, doves have as their realm the spaciousness of the
sky and the gift of flight. Although their simplicity may hold more complexity than
we are aware of, the image of simplicity captures the quality of single-mindedness.
Doves live in total dependency upon divine providence, as do we all. We, as human beings,
can live with an awareness that we are radically poor and, therefore, everything is
gift. Consciousness of our innate poverty tends to simplify life.
All About Love
In his classic work Walden, Henry David Thoreau cries out: Simplicity,
simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred
or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your account on your
Whether or not Thoreau had Matthews passage in mind, the advice
here is similar to that of Jesus. There is one thing that is necessary. Martha
thought it was hospitality; Mary opted for contemplation. Martha waited on table to
express her love; Mary gazed upon the face of Jesus and knew that love simplified everything.
As disciples of the Lord we are sent. Through Baptism we have been given
a mission to invite others to know, love and imitate the life of Jesus. But we are
sent into a world filled with forces contrary to gospel values.We have to live and
work in a culture that is ambiguous. A culture of death, a culture of blatant consumerism,
a culture of violence and injustice violates the dignity of the human. A shrewdness
that is first cousin to prudence is needed if our ministry in such an environment is
Sense of Direction
We are sent but not alone. The Spirit is given to us and is the principal
agent of our discipleship. Gods Spirit is simple, for God is Love. Here is the
cornerstone that supports and sustains our Christian community and ministry. It is
the Spirit that unifies all of our activities so that they lead to the glory of God.
A petition from our liturgy is a fitting response to the call to be shrewd
and simple: Lord Jesus, you are the true vine and we are the branches; allow
us to remain in you, to bear much fruit, and to give glory to the Father. Here
is a mission statement that gives us a sense of direction. Jesus is Lord; Jesus is
the true vine pouring life and love into us; prayer keeps us united to our Redeemer
and Friend; we are to bear fruit through service and witness; and, in all this, we
give glory to God. Nothing can be simpler; nothing can be shrewder.
Next: Blaspheming Against the Spirit
Consider the concept that we all are radically poor, dependent
on divine providence. What does this mean to you?
Name two changes that would simplify your life. What would
it take for you to make these changes?
The Thin Line
By Judith Dunlap
What an interesting combination: shrewd as serpents, simple as
doves. Jesus, who told us to turn the other cheek (be simple as doves), also
advises us not to be doormats. We need to respond to confrontation, but always as a
Christian. Jesus tells us to be shrewd and sharp-witted but in a gentle wayto
take care of ourselves without seriously injuring those who threaten us. That can be
a thin line.
I have a friend who has a clever, ready answer for any occasion. She
is smart and funny and her humor can defuse the most uncomfortable situations. I know
of other people who are funny and quick to respond, but their humor is hard and often
stings. They deal with confrontation by humiliating their adversary. They are clever,
but not at all gentle.
Make sure your youngsters know the difference between laughing with people,
and laughing at them. Help them see the error in the old saying, Sticks and stones
may break my bones but words can never hurt me. Words do hurt, and they can sometimes
leave more lasting scars than broken bones.
Do not tolerate jokes or comments in your home that make fun of someone,
even if that person is not there. Teach your children to stand up for themselves but
not by knocking someone else down (literally or figuratively). Teach them to use all
of their wits when confronted with words that hurt or with sticks and stones. But help
them realize that sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away.
Above all else, take your youngsters hurt feelings as seriously
as you do their bruised knees. Console them, counsel them and, if necessary, take the
matter into your own hands. Just remember Jesus advice: Be shrewd, but simple.
Respond as a follower of Jesus Christ.
Ask family members to talk about the last time someone challenged
them. How did they respond?
By Frank Frost
If Superman and Wonder Woman got married, what would their kids be like? This suggests
the premise of Sky High. The movie takes its name from the school in the sky
where kids with a variety of superpowers need to learn how to responsibly use those
powers, which emerge in puberty.
The film attempts, with some success, to authentically evoke teenage angst in the
manner of John Hughes while having all the fun of animated comic strips. Think The
Incredibles meets Pretty in Pink.
Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is the 14-year-old son of the greatest superhero
couple of all time, The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), who
dream that their son will grow up to save the world someday. Will pretends to be super
strong like his father, but only his good friend Layla (Danielle Panabaker) knows what
he fears: He doesnt appear to have any superpowers.
But the truth will soon be known. On the first day of high school all freshmen are
tested for their powers, leading to assignment of hero
status or sidekick statusthereby institutionalizing the in and out
crowds. Will, however, is assigned to
hero support when he cant demonstrate any powers. Out of loyalty
to Will, Layla hides her powers (she can instantly grow plants and trees) so she can
join him as a sidekick, along with a small group of losers whose talents
The cliquishness of high school is dramatized by the behavior of Gwen (Mary Elizabeth
Winstead), the prettiest girl in the school, who as an older student and student body
president possessively takes Will under her wing. Will is insensitive to the difficulty
this creates for Layla, whose deep affection for him must go unexpressed. High school
would not be complete (and a plot would lack conflict) without bullies, including one
with the ability to stretch his elastic body without limit and another who can move
so fast he becomes a blur.
Will eventually must confess his embarrassing lack of powers to his parents, the picture
of every child who cannot live up to his parents expectations. His father is
devastated but his mother suggests that powers are just slow to arrive for some people.
And indeed this is the case with Will, whose superhuman strength and ability to fly
emerge at just the right moment when the story escalates to a battle of the superpowers.
Gwen, it turns out, is the evil technocrat who can control technology with her mind.
She also has a history with The Commander and Jetstream, who defeated her in a former
incarnation. It becomes the task of Will, Layla and their friendall of whose
humble powers will make a differenceto save the world. Predictable lessons emerge
but are no less entertaining: Everyone has a unique talent that is valuable, keep your
word and be loyal to your friends.
What values do you find in this film?
By Judy Ball
St. Anthony Claret
Hows this for a résumé: missionary, religious founder,
social reformer, chaplain to royalty, writer, publisher, archbishopand survivor
of an attempted assassination.
Born in the north of Spain, young Anthony Claret learned printing as
well as his fathers trade of weaving. But his real interest was in serving God.
Ordained a diocesan priest, he became one of the most popular preachers in the country.
His missions and retreats emphasized devotion to the Eucharist and the Immaculate Heart
of Mary. He also published hundreds of books and pamphlets on the faith.
At age 42 Anthony founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart
of Mary (the Claretians); he later cofounded the Claretian Sisters. Appointed archbishop
of Santiago, Cuba, in 1850, Anthony entered a world where immorality was rampant among
clergy and laity and anti-Christian groups were openly antagonistic. In turn, he preached
and heard confessions and instructed black slaves. He promoted family-owned farms and
The Church and civic reform he advocated brought him enemies on all sides.
A hired assassin slashed open his face and wrist. Anthony responded by getting his
would-be assassins death sentence commuted to a prison term.
After seven years he was called home to become confessor to Queen Isabella.
Feeling confined in his new role, he used his influence to help in the founding of
a science laboratory, a museum of natural history, music and language schools and an
association of writers and artists. Meanwhile, he continued his life of fasting and
The revolution of 1868 brought exile. Anthony died two years later and
was canonized in 1950. His feast day is October 24.
Father Carl Quebedeaux, C.M.F.
Anthony Claret would be proud of the diverse group of men seeking to
follow in his footsteps today. This years Claretian seminarians will likely include
a U.S.-born attorney, two Cuban-Americans and men of Haitian, Mexican and Nicaraguan
They are witnesses to something powerful, Claretian Father
Carl Quebedeaux told Every Day Catholic. And that something, he suggested, is
If he were alive today, social issues would be his passion. He
would look at life through the eyes of the poor. He would be using the Internet to
bring Gods message of love and compassion.
It was the Claretians focus on social justice that first caught
the attention of Carl Quebedeaux during his student days at Louisiana State, where
they served as chaplains. When he entered the community he had no idea where religious
life would take him. My path just unfolded, he said, beginning with 10
years in Guatemala accompanying the Mayan people in the midst of that countrys
protracted civil war.
He has been director of vocations for the Claretians for the past 10
years, work that puts him in contact not only with men exploring religious life but
also with college-age men and women through retreats, volunteer programs and service
How many of those people choose religious life isnt the only issue,
said Father Quebedeaux.
Many will marry, but we hope they all bring with them the experiences
theyve had with us. Our goal is to help them see where God is in their lives,
to help them deepen their sense of who they are.