Posted by Paul Edwards (Fr. Paul) on Jun 28, 2012 | Comments (0)

Pentecost VI Mark 6:1-13

"Shake the dust from your feet"

This parable is the difference between what you think rationally and how you think spiritually.

Rationally, you read what is written.

Spiritually, you discover what is not written.

Jesus comes with His apostles to His hometown. There He teaches on the Sabbath in their synagogue. He amazed them with His Wisdom as long as He agreed with them. They took offense when He did not. He could do no good work. Jesus wondered at their lack of faith. He continued His teaching in other villages.

Rational thinking centers on Jesus and how the people responded to Him. Rational thinking will compare us to those who reject Him in his hometown.  We, as they, become judged for being offended.

He then sent His apostles out two by two. They would take nothing but a staff, sandals, and their cloak. They were to stay with those who welcomed them and leave those who did not alone.

In Biblical times, when leaving Gentile cities, pious Jews often shook the dust from their feet to show their separation from Gentiles. While Israel was a holy land, the land of the Gentiles wasn't. Rational thinking judges us along with the people who reject the apostles' teaching. Jesus tells us if others refuse to listen to us, we get the right to judge them. The only thing we can do is to treat them as Gentiles. There can be no fellowship between them and us. We must leave and leave for good. This leads to self righteousness and condemnation of those who do not agree with us because, "Jesus said so!"

One of the problems created in rational thinking is that it does not understand Jesus' strategy. It sees only one strategy for Jesus. His intention was to prove He was God with miracles, show His Love by ministering to those in need, and to spread the grace message.

What is wrong with that? Really nothing is wrong, but it was not His strategy. It takes some modicum of common sense. He needed to have disciples to witness to His death, burial, resurrection and Pentecost. He needed chosen people with the authority to proclaim the Gospel of grace. His strategy was not to make Christians, but to make disciples. Matthew 28:19 He called them to give them the authority of apostles. He trained them by modeling how to do ministry and then prepared them to do it. He talked in parables. Later He explained the parables to the apostles. He was preparing them to lead and to make more disciples.

In this Scripture, Jesus modeled how to take rejection and stay in the grace. Jesus responded with the famous quotation about a prophet not being honored in his own home. Out of the grace, it would sound like being regretful. In the Presence, it requires an understanding of Jewish Humor. It is one of those truths told with humor. Many times the humor of Jesus is missed because of how the Bible is read rationally, out of the Presence.

Spiritual Thinking would focus on how Jesus taught His apostles to handle rejection. He modeled, in Nazareth, how to deal with rejection. He was not bitter or judgmental. He "wondered." What He was doing was modeling for His apostles. When His apostles went into the villages, He told them how to handle rejection gracefully.

How do you handle this un-Jesus-like statement to "shake the dust from your feet"? It is not the graceful thing to do. To do unto others as they have done to you is not the Golden Rule. Jesus was teaching them not to take rejection personally. Work with those who were willing to be open. Move on from those who were not open. You can not do great work with those who take offense. Sometimes we need to let go, not argue or judge others, and move on.

Granted, he did work with the Sadducees and Pharisees. He did it for his apostles for them to see how they could teach in parables to those who would not see or listen. Those who could see and hear would get the humor of it all. The crowd got it and loved it.

Shaking the dust is a spiritual instruction on how to handle rejection. It was to give them the ability to detach from it. It is not to be used in front of those who were not open. He is using a metaphor only for the apostles (and us) when the loving thing to do is to detach and move on.


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