In today’s Gospel from St. Luke, Jesus sends out his Apostles to “proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” He gives them several instructions before they go. The first is one I’ve written about before – the instruction that they should take nothing or the journey – no walking stick, food, money, etc.
Then he tells them that “as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.”
I’ve sat with this line a couple of times. It is an instruction that I think can be easy to get wrong.
Clearly Jesus is not suggesting that we walk away every time some disagrees with our efforts to proclaim the Gospel. Preaching the Gospel is hard and people are not always going to “welcome” us immediately. So some fortitude, patience and endurance are necessary.
But I read Jesus as saying here that sometimes we do just need to walk away. That we won’t always succeed in reaching people. (I am always reminded that Jesus let the rich young man walk away – he didn’t chase after him and force him to sell all he had.) Knowing when to stay, and when to shake the dust from our feet is the challenge.