Jesus said to the twelve, ‘As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for labourers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town.’
Jesus said to the twelve: If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.
As those who profess a faith in Jesus Christ, we are all called to go into the world and proclaim the Good News of our risen and ascended Saviour. Those who have taken that call seriously will know that it is not always an easy command to obey. Apostles of Christ face times of persecution, rejection and ridicule, just as Jesus foretold. Those same apostles will also know that those negative responses to their message should not deter them from taking the Good News into other, more receptive, communities.
We live in a busy world in which people have become increasingly lazy. Yes, we work longer and longer hours in order that we might not compromise the jobs that provide us with an income. But, at the same time, we have become lazy in matters of faith and learning. The technological age in which we live has provided us with a tool that takes the effort out of seeking answers to any question we might need to ask. It has also taken away the need for us to make up our own minds. Just type a ‘Should I choose … ?’ question into Google; plenty of people have had a go at making the choice for you.
The ‘wonders’ of modern science have given us a sense of certainty that belies our faith in Jesus Christ. The algorithms have decided that the life of a faithful apostle is neither logical nor sensible. They have also decided that we should not choose to listen to the Good News of Jesus Christ because it does not compute with the mathematical formulae that control our daily lives. Fewer people are willing to welcome us or listen to us when we speak the Good News.
In today’s reading Jesus tells us how to deal with such rejection: simply walk away, shaking the dust off our feet. This may seem harsh, and perhaps the fate of those we walk away from will be eternal damnation. But, the hope still remains. As we carry on proclaiming the Good News faithfully and joyously, those whose first reaction is to turn their backs on us may eventually come to join all those who have not been so foolish.
The life of a faithful apostle is not easy, but it is the life into which we are all called. Let us pray for the strength to accept that call. Let us also pray for those who reject the Good News at first hearing, that they might finally see the error of their ways and join the company of those who know Jesus to be their Saviour.