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Unveiling Deception: Wolves in Sheep's Clothing
Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. - Matthew 7:15
Our Catholic parish serves as our sanctuary, a place where we find a profound sense of belonging among fellow believers on our Catholic Faith journey. It offers not only a solemn space for worship but also a safe haven of trust, peace, and consolation. Within this parish community, we come together to deepen our relationship with God and nurture our spirituality as the one united Mystical Body of Christ.
However, within the embrace of our parish, there are instances when we encounter individuals who do not truly reflect the values they outwardly portray. These individuals can be likened to "wolves in sheep's clothing," as they deliberately deceive their fellow parishioners, and sometimes even the clergy, by concealing their true intentions beneath a facade of piety and holiness.
In our Catholic parish, this deception can manifest in various ways. When we encounter someone who appears to be a model of faith and morality, we may lower our guard because we believe they genuinely reflect their outward appearance when we see them participating in Mass and leading parish activities. Their service and public displays of devotion build trust and admiration. However, it is precisely within these seemingly trustworthy individuals that these metaphorical "wolves" may be hiding.
There were a group of women who I believed to practice what they preach, who wore chapel veils and received Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue. Sadly, I came to discover that they were quite judgmental vocally and could often be found verbally attacking elderly parishioners in a very disrespectful way. They became the enforcers of God in the parish, or so they deemed themselves as what they believed should be enforced in the parish placing themselves above the Pastor.
Instances of betrayal within our parish community can sadly take place, and the consequences are deeply felt. The emotional impact of discovering that someone we trusted within the parish had ulterior motives can be profoundly painful, leading to feelings of hurt, disappointment, and even justifiable anger. Such experiences can even challenge the foundation of our faith and our sense of community.
Be careful of who you trust, the the devil was once an angel. - Unknown
In some cases, the presence of these "wolves in sheep's clothing" can poison the parish environment. Parishioners may avoid involvement in parish activities led by these individuals, or the hostile atmosphere they create may lead some to seek refuge in other parishes. It raises the question of how to maintain peace and active participation in the parish when fellow parishioners who appear virtuous in front of the pastor engage in hurtful behavior.
Despite these challenges, it is essential to stay true to our authentic selves and uphold the principles we preach. As followers of Christ, we are called to be different from the world, treating one another as brothers and sisters in Jesus. We are all created in the image and likeness of God, and even in the face of mistreatment by fellow parishioners, we should never lower ourselves down to their level.
Above all, we must remember that our faith remains unwavering, even in the presence of those who conceal their true selves. Our relationship with God is personal and not contingent on the actions of others. While the actions of "wolves in sheep's clothing" may shake our trust in individuals, they should never weaken our trust in the Divine Lord who guides us on our spiritual journey.
Photo: SarahRichterArt, Pixabay