Hebrews 12:18-19, 21-24
"Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them."
This day’s scripture brings many points for reflection. First, in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, the thought that we have in Jesus a God that is approachable. Not terrible and vengeful, as Yahweh is sometimes written of, but a mediator, Whose blood has made us perfect, Whose blood "speaks more eloquently than that of Abel."
Next, in the psalm, the thought that we should ponder the mercy of the Lord. That we should carefully hold and think on our God, and His city to which we are invited. His city that stands firm forever against all the forces arrayed against it.
And in the gospel, the idea that when we are called to do the work of the Lord, whether that is serving in our parish, working in our community, or bringing more attention to our own Christian life, we will be provided with all that we need by God. We have no need to "worry" about our needs (although, we should still care for our feet!).
But beyond all of these, there was one that caught my attention. "Shake the dust off your feet." I began to think of all the times I was sure that I had the answer to someone else’s problems. When I was positive that if they would only listen to me, the world would be a better place, both for them and the rest of us. And how I wanted to rail against them when they didn’t listen. How I wanted to hold them up as examples of what not to do when approached with the truth. How I wanted them to know what a great deal they were missing.
Now, my assumption is that the disciples were the real deal. The gospel reports that they drove out demons and cured the sick. But what were Jesus’ instructions to them as to what to do when they encountered someone that didn’t listen to them? It wasn’t to yell louder. It wasn’t to go get the other disciples and browbeat them into submission. It was to just quietly leave and shake the dust from their shoes. Simply let those who would not listen be. Perhaps the time wasn’t ripe for them to listen. Perhaps they would listen to the next pair of disciples. Perhaps… well, perhaps this just wasn’t these disciples’ work to do.
My prayer today is that I recognize when God is telling me, "this is not your work to do." I pray that I can carry the humility that Jesus taught when He said, "Shake the dust from your sandals and move on."
Talib Huff works and volunteers at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center in Citrus Heights, California.