Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Read Chapter 10
George Leo Haydock
Wise as serpents It is a proverbial way of speaking; and an admonition to be circumspect and discreet, but harmless, innocent, sincere in all our actions and dealings. (Witham)
Simple. That is, harmless, plain, sincere, and without guile. (Challoner)
In the midst of wolves. Although Christ sent his apostles not only against wolves, but even into the very midst of wolves, still he commands them to behave with the meekness of sheep, and simplicity of doves. Thus he evinces the greatness of his power, in overcoming the wolves by the sheep, which were continually exposed to be devoured and torn in pieces by them, still never failing to change the fierce nature of the ravenous wolf into their own nature, in mildness and innocence. As long as we retain the nature of sheep, we easily overcome our adversaries; but no sooner are we changed into wolves, than we become the derision of our enemies: the supreme Pastor, who superintends the sheep, not the wolves, withdrawing from us the powerful p...
Having made them feel confident about their necessary food, and opened unto them all men's houses, and having invested their entrance with an appearance to attract veneration, charging them not to come in as wanderers, and beggars, but as much more venerable than those who received them (for this He signifies by His saying, the workman is worthy of his hire; and by His commanding them to inquire, who was worthy, and there to remain, and enjoining them to salute such as receive them; and by His threatening such as receive them not with those incurable evils): having I say, in this way cast out their anxiety, and armed them with the display of miracles, and made them as it were all iron and adamant, by delivering them from all worldly things, and enfranchising them from all temporal care: He speaks in what follows of the evils also that were to befall them; not only those that were to happen soon after, but those too that were to be in long course of time; from the first, even long befor...
He armed them with miracles and made them confident of their means of sustenance by opening to them the doors of those who are worthy. Now He also tells them of the terrible things that will occur, thus showing His foreknowledge. He comforts them with the words "It is I." It is I, the Mighty One, He says, so you may take courage; you will not be overcome. He prepares them to undergo suffering. Just as it is impossible for a sheep in the midst of wolves not to suffer harm, so it is with you amidst the Jews. But should you suffer, do not become angry, for I want you to be as meek as sheep and in this very manner so to conquer.
He also wants the disciples to be wise. So that you might not imagine, hearing them referred to as sheep, that a Christian must be foolish, Christ says that he must also be wise, knowing how to act when surrounded by many enemies. For just as the serpent allows all the rest of its body to be struck but guards its head, so let the Christian give all of his belongi...