Seventh Sunday after Pentecost-Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

WOLVES IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.’ — ST. MATT. vii. 15.

I. THESE words of warning were addressed by Our Lord to His disciples, concerning those false teachers who, under the guise of His sheep, should in later days, steal into the fold, and strive to make void the doctrine which He had preached. You may look upon them as addressed to you also. They convey to you a note of warning against those wicked and corrupt boys who may strive to lead you into sin. At times, boys of this stamp gain an entrance into the select fold of our Colleges. Outwardly, they seem to be clothed in the robes of innocence ; but their apparent innocence is only a cloak, beneath which there is hidden a corrupt heart. It need not be matter of surprise to you, that there are boys who are thus perverse ; nor that they should find their way even into College. Owing to the corruption of human nature, ‘ it must needs be that scandals should arise;’ it is your business to guard against the harm which they may work.

For this purpose, there is need of much watchfulness ; because, as the devil can transform himself into an Angel of light, so are these, his agents, able to carry a smooth exterior, and wear all the semblance of great virtue. Their company is often most attractive ; their conversation and bearing are agreeable ; companions gather round them, go frequently with them, and become their bosom friends. Little by little they throw off the deceitful mask. As we have said before, from the abundance of their corrupt heart, ‘ their foul mouth speaketh,’ and instils a subtle poison into the souls of those who listen. They impart the knowledge of evil; they open the eyes of the innocent. Alas! poor children, so unsuspicious of evil, how often does the knowledge thus imparted transform into the abode of Satan those souls of yours, which were once the temples of the Holy Ghost!

II. In order to prevent so great a calamity as this, the shepherd, appointed by Superiors to guard the youthful flock, must ever watch with unwearied diligence. His vigilance, however, must not be exercised in a narrow or in a suspicious spirit. This would wither up all confidence in the hearts of his boys, and deprive the shepherd himself of that peace which is the sunshine of the soul. You, therefore, who are the sheep of the flock, must aid him in his arduous task. It is your most sacred duty to raise the cry ‘ Wolf!’ when you perceive that a wicked boy has crept in among you. By making him known to Superiors, do not for a moment suppose, either that you act dishonourably, or that you break faith with your school-fellows. In a case like this, in which your own virtue, as well as the virtue of your companions is in danger, to inform of him who is imperiling the well-being of the College, is so far from being dishonourable, that it is even an act of virtue, to the performance of which you are strictly bound in conscience. In other matters that are not of so vital importance, as, for example, breaches of school discipline, there is no obligation whatever to make them known to Superiors. Be silent about them ; for the maintenance of Rule and of order in no way concerns you. Stand faithfully by one another in all things in which you may do so without sin; and with all your heart, hate the weakness and the meanness of tale-bearing. But with regard to a wolf in sheep’s clothing — there is no more dishonour in making him known, and in having him thrust out from your midst, than there is in crushing the head of a sleeping adder, or in dashing a poisoned goblet from the lips of a friend. Therefore, have no pity upon anyone whom you discover to be a wolf. When his works begin to betray him, with all speed flee away from him. Run to your shepherd, to your prefect, and tell him of the evil that is in the midst of you. His sage experience will teach him what course to pursue; and his strong arm will, if necessary, expel the intruder, before he has time to inflict a death-wound upon any of the flock.

III. Do not, however, while vigilantly on your guard against the influence of corrupt companions — do not suffer the devil to gain admittance into your own heart. For he ever goeth about seeking whom he may devour ; and, as a wicked boy may disguise himself in the cloak of hypocrisy, so can the devil assume a pleasing shape, and appear to you as a very Angel of light. He is in the midst of you, and stands close by every boy. No vigilance on the prefect’s part can keep him out. He is with you in the playground ; he is by you in the study; he follows you into solitude; he leaves you not even when you kneel down to address your petitions to God. If he sees that you are idle, or that your mind is unoccupied, he whispers into your ear some evil suggestion. Therefore, be on your guard; for if you should listen to him, and allow the poison of his breath to enter your soul, you will become like to him. Outwardly, indeed, there will be no change. You will, perhaps, seem to be as innocent as you were before. But there is wrought within you a change sad enough to make the Angels weep. You have become a wolf in sheep’s clothing. You have ceased to be the child of God. You have lost your white robe of innocence and of honour. The glory with which you were crowned has been torn from your brow. You have no longer any right to the kingdom of heaven. Yet, though all this change has taken place, you are the same to the eyes of your school-fellows. But unless you speedily take yourself in hand, and sternly repress the evil that has poisoned your heart, the fury of passion will break forth, and make you a ravening wolf among your companions. Therefore, beware of those corrupt boys who come to you in the garb of innocence, otherwise they will lead you to destruction. Fear not to make them known, and to have them expelled, should any of them chance to be among you. Also be ever on the watch against the wiles of the cunning devil. By unwearied vigilance, and by earnest prayer, keep him away from you ; and when you approach the Holy Table to receive into your heart the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, ask Him always to stand by you in the hour of trial; to check the fury of the ravenous wolf, and never to allow him to deceive and destroy you.

 

Taken from – Lectures for Boys

 by Rev. Francis Cuthbert Doyle, 1879

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