It’s similar, it seems to me, with trust and distrust.
These days a person has to be wary. A person has to be discerning. A person has to sift through all the information, conflicting reports, and opinions that are foisted upon us -- news, social media.
In some parts of the world, it is only a cell phone that allows a person to have any connection with the wider world. Do you trust what a recognized journalist or commentator says in the report from a global network such as the BBC or are his (or her) words being twisted on the screen through artificial intelligence? If altered, the impact is significant in the process of leading masses of people astray especially during certain moments that could be crucial.
You and I need to be discerning. We need to have a mind of our own to ponder and assess. This also is a responsibility of faith. Do you become paranoid and distrust everything and everyone? That would be letting evil overpower good and darkness overcome light.
There is a struggle of trust versus distrust in our world these days. Perhaps it has always been so and that’s what Jesus knew and that’s what he was warning his disciples about. There are things that can lead you off the path. There are people who can lead you off the path. Beware. Be discerning. Think.
These are but signs of the struggles of faith.
And in the midst of those struggles, there is Good News. The Good News is that love helps break down barriers. Forgiveness helps overcome estrangement. Compassion helps heal brokenness. And that’s not being naïve nor falling prey to idealism. It is all tempered by discernment: perceiving the way things actually are and figuring out how to bring the Good News into action. Taking Jesus’ over all teachings into account, I think that’s the message in this Gospel passage.
There’s much about which to be wary. It is wise to be vigilant and discerning. “Be wise as serpents and gentle as doves,” Jesus says on another occasion.
Over all, your outlook is one of faith. You see the world through the eyes of faith. The struggle and the challenge is to discern how to bring that sense of faith into action in ones own life and, from there, how to bring it into the world. In this, there is a call to accountability for those who lead others off the path but it’s love, forgiveness, and compassion that bring healing and wholeness.
This is the response for a person of faith in the midst of the birth-pangs of the kingdom.
Do not be alarmed. Have faith.