Clement, Bishop of Rome, Martyr, c.100
Text for the Reflection
Matthew 10:16- 20
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account, you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Clement of Rome was the first-century convert. After Paul and Peter were martyred in Rome, Clement become a leader, in fact, bishop, of the church there. Tradition has it that about the year 100 AD he was martyred by being cast into the sea and tied to an anchor. Not much detail is known about Clement of Rome, but some of his writings provide valuable insight into the early church. His letter to the church at Corinth may be the earliest document we have outside of the New Testament. Today´s text contains instructions for mission work that were given to the apostles soon after he had chosen them. Jesus openly warned them that they were going to face persecution because they were not equipped with military weapons to defend themselves. Their weapon was the Word of God. Therefore, their situation was like sheep in the midst of wolves. This means that physically they were vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy hence spiritually they much stronger. So, how were they going to conduct themselves in such a context? Two extreme characteristics are asked of them by Jesus: 1. Be wise as serpents. 2. Be harmless as doves. Despite their vulnerable position, Jesus’ followers were not to defend themselves with worldly forms of power. They were to remain harmless as doves, though wise as serpents. Wisdom would keep them from attracting trouble unnecessarily or show them how to avoid it without compromise. Serpents are attacked by everyone and must use creativity and wisdom to survive. Remaining harmless would keep them from giving in to the temptation of retaliation.
Let Us Pray
Almighty God, you chose your servant Clement of Rome to recall the Church in Corinth to obedience and stability: Grant that your Church may be grounded and settled in your truth by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; reveal to it what is not yet known; fill up what is lacking; confirm what has already been revealed, and keep it blameless in your service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen