Faith sharing rejected? Here is the answer.
During the last few weeks, we heard how God called some of the Old Testament prophets and how the people rejected their message. These prophets were chosen, and sent, to bring the people to God and to teach the people how to follow God’s ways. Today’s readings are again about being chosen and sent. Throughout the bible, God is trying to help us understand that we are all chosen and sent. In the bible, God holds up role models to help us understand how we are supposed to handle being chosen and sent to bring other people to God and his Son, Jesus.
Today we hear that the prophet Amos was chosen by the Lord to tell others about God’s ways and God’s desire to have a relationship with them. In the second reading, Paul is telling us we are chosen by God from the beginning, and the Gospel today recounts the story of Jesus’ sending of the twelve apostles out to the tell the people about him and to help them experience God through compassion and healing.
But Amos and Paul, along with their message, are regularly rejected by people. Last week we heard how Jesus was directly rejected by his own people. Today he tells the disciples they too will be rejected. He tells them their plans will not always turn out the way they expect, and they should not allow their world to get rocked if THEIR plans do not seem to work.
I will bet the idea of our expectations, and plans, not working out translates to your life. Your well thought out plans change, don’t they? Sometimes, changed plans involve the ones we love the most. Life ceaselessly confronts us with unexpected turns in the road. Again and again, we begin a relationship, trying to heal a relationship, or maybe try to bring someone back to God or church with grand hopes, and then unforeseen factors intervene, or the idea is just flat out rejected.
Jesus is talking about one such experience. He sends his apostles on the road – with high hopes – to share the good news about God’s love for them, and the coming of himself, the Messiah into the world. Jesus tells them in advance: No matter how good your news is, or how gifted you are, some folks are not going to be interested. Some are going to be angry at you for even raising the subject. And, of course, he was right.
Like the prophets and the disciples, we here are all called to share our gift of faith, to tell people about how much they are loved by God and his Son Jesus. So, what are we to do when our best efforts at sharing our faith are rejected, sometimes with brutal coldness? What are we to do, especially when those who are brushing us off are people we really care about, like our children, friends and relatives?
In the Gospel, Jesus answers that question. He tells us that after we have done our best, and we are sure there is nothing more that can be done, “Shake the dust of the place off your feet,” and move on. Put it in God’s hands, and let it go! Not with ugly words or hateful glares, but with a peaceful heart. Give your disappointment, your hurt, your anger, to God, and let it go.
When we hear that, we might be tempted to think God is telling us we should not care. NO! He is saying do what you do with great passion, but do not become attached to the results. Leave the results of sharing your faith to God. Shake the dust of results from your feet. The fact is you have no control over the results of your message or the results of your invitation to share your faith.
Does this mean giving up on people or cutting them out of our lives? No! Not at all. The “dust” we are told to shake off our feet is not the other person, or even our hopes for him or her. The dust we are supposed to shake off is OUR disappointment, that dust is OUR feelings of rejection, that dust is OUR nagging, and perhaps even OUR judgmental anger. That type of dust must go. The dust of disappointment, feelings, rejection, or anger can be extremely hard to shake from our feet.
But remember; you are in good company. The Lord sends all of us to share our faith, just like he did the prophets and disciples. Like them, we too sometimes will be rejected, or unforeseen factors will intervene. When that happens, shake the dust of disappointment, rejection, or anger, from your feet and continue to share your faith in the way the Lord calls you to share it. Not necessarily the way WE want to share our faith, but the way the Lord sends us to share our faith.
This is what we and you to know. God, and his Son Jesus, send all of us to share our faith. We may have our own plans on how we are going to do that or how sharing our faith is supposed to work. But plans do change, do they not? Shake the dust of disappointment from your feet. Share the faith God has given you with passion. Do not become attached to the results. Give your results to God.
This is what we want you to do: Invite someone to Mass. Share your faith that way. Maybe it is someone who has been away for a long time, maybe it is someone who has not returned from the Covid situation, or maybe it is someone who has never been to Mass. Invite them, tell them you will meet them here, or that you will pick them up. Remember it is about the invitation, not the results of your invitation. If one person tells you no, ask someone else. Share your faith by a simple invitation to join you for Mass. Let God handle the results.