Saturday, July 2, 2016



The Gospel for Sunday, July 3, recounts Jesus’ instructions to the seventy-two disciples he is sending out to preach. His final piece of advice is,“Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, 'The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you'” (Lk 10:10-12).

This is one of my favorite passages in the New Testament. I’ve blogged about these verses before, but they contain such solid advice for us today that they bear repeating: Jesus is advising us not to collect defeats and disappointments as we go through life, but rather to let go of them and move on.

Like much good advice, however, this is easier said than done. There seems to be something in human nature that enjoys brooding over injuries, real or imagined, inflicted by our neighbors. But such brooding, while it may feel good at first (the comfort of knowing that I have been unjustly wronged), soon becomes stale, and starts to weigh us down on life’s journey like excess baggage. If we keep accumulating the dust of grievances, then over the years we start to bend under the weight until our back can barely support the extra weight.

As I’ve written in a previous post, I could imagine, as part of the Penitential Rite at the beginning of every mass, a ritual of taking off our shoes and clapping them together to get rid of the dust of the the past week’s disappointments, grievances and defeats.


Because it can be difficult to let go of  anger and resentment, we should be on the lookout for helpful advice on how to do so. Let me share a bit of advice that I came across just yesterday in a collection of sayings of the early Desert Monks of Egypt. I can’t find the exact quotation, so I’ll paraphrase.

A monk came to a wise elder for advice. saying, "Father, I spent much time caring for a brother monk when he was sick, but he never thanked me. Is it right for me to be angry because of that?”  The elder replied, “If you were caring for that brother, then it would be right for you to be angry, but if you were caring
for Christ, then you should not be angry.”

If I hold the door for someone and he or she does not say “Thank you,” resentment could settle on me like a bit of dust. But the wise old monk suggests that I realize that I had the privilege of holding the door for Christ in the person of that brother or sister, and that was its own reward. No need to make judgements about the person's impolite behavior.

This awareness of the fact that Christ is present in every person I meet, whether a saint or a sinner, whether they are grateful or rude, might help me to avoid collecting some dust that would otherwise stick to me and start weighing me down.

I hope to use this tactic the next time someone gets on my nerves. I’ll let you know how it works.

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