It Will Not be You Who Speak

For the past couple of days, and again in today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus’ instructions to his Apostles as he sends them out. Some of what Jesus says in today’s instruction is quite daunting: “I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves.” “Beward of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you.” “You will be hated by all because of my name.” “When they persecute you in one town, flee to another.” You have to wonder if, hearing this, some of the guys weren’t saying (or at least thinking to themselves), “Hmm, maybe I’ll just sit this one out, stay home and keep the fires burning.” Or, “Was this really what I signed up for?” Jesus did not make this mission sound like very appealing.

But in midst of all the warnings, Jesus says something that must have given the Apostles heart. “When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

This is a promise that I find very consoling and I come back to it again and again. On occasions when I’m little nervous about a talk I have to give or when I’m concerned whether I’ll say the right thing to someone who is struggling or in pain, this is the passage I remember. And I pray, “let it not be me speaking, but You speaking through me. Give me what I am to say.” The prayer itself strengthens me and I rest in confidence that God will be with me, letting me know what to say.

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