(Jesus said to his apostles): “Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
If you have been following these reflections, you might have noticed that there is an emphasis on proclaiming the good news. That isn’t because of any bias this commentator might have towards evangelism, but because it is the prime directive of Jesus that can be seen in almost everything he says. Every gospel ends with his commission to go make disciples of all nations.
Now if we take this directive seriously, and actually start proclaiming the gospel, we need to understand that not everybody is going to be receptive to it. Some, of course, will accept the good news with great joy. You are to bless these people.
Others, however, will reject the gospel. Some might be outright hostile. What does one do in such cases? Stand firm, continue to proclaim the truth with patience, but when they persist in hardness of heart, then Jesus tells us to shake the dust off our feet. What does that mean?
To shake the dust of ones feet is essentially a symbolic gesture indicating that you have done whatever you could in the situation, but now carry no further responsibility for the people. We find Paul doing this when the Jewish leaders in Pisidian Antioch fermented persecution against his team and expelled them from the city. Scripture says “they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went” on to another town (Acts 13:51).
Now, and this is because I think a proper reflection demands it, we need to look at a reversal of roles. Instead of you going out with the gospel message, if somebody comes to you with it — a gospel message in its undiluted brilliance - would you accept it with eager and open hearts?
In either case, plenty to think about today.
May the Spirit be with you.