Shake off the dust of your feet (Mk 6:11-6:11)

“If any place

Will not welcome you,

If they refuse

To hear you,

As you leave,

Shake off the dust

That is on your feet

As a testimony

Against them.”

 

καὶ ὃς ἂν τόπος μὴ δέξηται ὑμᾶς μηδὲ ἀκούσωσιν ὑμῶν, ἐκπορευόμενοι ἐκεῖθεν ἐκτινάξατε τὸν χοῦν τὸν ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν ὑμῶν εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς.

 

Equivalent passages to this can be found in Matthew, chapter 10:14, and Luke, chapter 9:5.  Mark indicated that Jesus said that if any place (καὶ ὃς ἂν τόπος) would not receive them (μὴ δέξηται ὑμᾶς) or listen to their words (μηδὲ ἀκούσωσιν ὑμῶν), they were to leave that place (ἐκπορευόμενοι ἐκεῖθεν).  They should shake off the dust from their feet (ἐκτινάξατε τὸν χοῦν τὸν ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν ὑμῶν), as a witness or testimony against them (εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς).  This indicated that the dust of that house was useless.  Some orthodox texts have the statement about Sodom and Gomorrah that was in Matthew, chapter 10:15 that had Jesus make a comparison between the places that had rejected them with the famous wicked cities of Genesis, chapter 18:20-19:29, Sodom and Gomorrah.  He said with a solemn statement (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) that it would be more tolerable (ἀνεκτότερον ἔσ) for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah (γῇ Σοδόμων καὶ Γομόρρων) on the judgment day (ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως) than this place that rejected his disciples (ἢ τῇ πόλει ἐκείνῃ).  They had lacked hospitality to the followers of Jesus, so that they were worse than those terrible cities in Genesis.

Human Authors

The Bible is the record of the Hebrew people and early Christians.  These human authors worked under the influence of God’s Spirit and at the same time under the influence of their community and culture.  Why these words?  Christians believe that this is God’s meaning in human words in content and message.  The cultural history and empirical science was true for their particular time.  History is always an interpretation.  Science is always experimenting finding new ways to do things.  The divine message of God transcends time and space, since it has an eternal ring to it that goes beyond the human authors and their words.

Yahweh was going to deal with Edom (Ezek 35:11-35:13)

“Says Yahweh God!

‘Therefore,

As I live,

I will deal

With you

According to the anger,

According to the envy

That you showed

Because of your hatred

Against them.

I will make myself

Known among you,

When I judge you.

You shall know

That I,

Yahweh,

Have heard

All the abusive speech

That you uttered

Against the mountains

Of Israel.

Saying.

‘They are laid desolate.

They are given us

To devour.’

You magnified yourselves

Against me

With your mouth.

You multiplied

Your words

Against me.

I heard it.”

Yahweh God, via Ezekiel, said that he was going to deal with Edom, Mount Seir. The Edomites, with their anger and envy. had showed their hatred against Israel. Now Yahweh was going to judge the Edomites. They would soon learn who Yahweh was. He had heard all their abusive speech against the mountains of Israel. They had said that Israel was desolate and ready to be devoured. They magnified themselves against Yahweh with their mouths. They multiplied their words against Yahweh, but he had heard them.

 

The warnings against these abominations (Ezek 8:17-8:18)

“Then Yahweh said to me.

‘Have you seen this?

O son of man!

Is it not bad enough

That the house of Judah

Commits the abominations

Done here?

Must they fill the land

With violence?

Must they provoke

My anger further?

See!

They put the branch

To their nose.

Therefore I will act

In wrath!

My eye will not spare!

I will not have pity!

Although they cry

In my hearing

With a loud voice,

I will not listen to them.’”

Then Yahweh warned Ezekiel again. Had he seen enough? The house of Judah committed all these abominations. On top of that, they filled the land with violence. They had provoked the anger of Yahweh. They even put branches in their noses as some kind of worship activity. Yahweh was going to act against them in his anger. He was not going to spare them or show any pity. Even if they cried very loudly, Yahweh was not going to listen to them. Their actions spoke louder than their words.

 

Do not be afraid of the rebellious people (Ezek 2:4-2:7)

“‘These descendants are

Impudent,

As well as stubborn.

I am sending you

To them.

You shall say

To them.

‘Thus says Yahweh God.’

They are a rebellious house.

Whether they hear

Or refuse to hear,

They will know

That there has been

A prophet among them.

You!

Son of man!

Do not be afraid

Of them!

Do not be afraid

Of their words!

Even though briers

Or thorns surround you,

Do not be afraid!

Even though

You live among scorpions,

Do not be afraid

Of their words!

Do not be dismayed

At their looks!

They are a rebellious house!

You shall speak

My words to them,

Whether they hear

Or refuse to hear.

They are a rebellious house!’”

These Israelite descendants were impudent and stubborn. Yahweh was sending Ezekiel to them to speak in his name. They were a rebellious house. Whether they heard or refused to hear, they would know that there had been a prophet among them. Ezekiel, the son of man, a mere mortal, was not to be afraid of them or their words. Even though briers or thorns surrounded him, he should not be afraid. Even though he lived among scorpions, he was not to be afraid of their words. He was not to be dismayed at their looks either. Yahweh repeated again that they were a rebellious house, whether they heard him or not was up to them.

The wise ones (Sir 20:27-20:31)

“The wise person

Advances himself

By his words.

Whoever is sensible

Will please the great men.

Whoever cultivates the soil

Will heap up their harvest.

Whoever pleases the great men

Will atone for injustice.

Favors blind the eyes of the wise.

Gifts blind the eyes of the wise.

Like a muzzle on the mouth,

They stop reproofs.

What is the value

Of hidden wisdom?

What is the value

Of an unseen treasure?

What value is either of them?

Better are those

Who hide their folly

Than those

Who hide their wisdom.”

Sirach gives us some indications about the wise people. They advance themselves by their words. They are sensible and thus please great men. They know how to cultivate the soil to get a great harvest. They atone for injustice. However, there is a down side. They should not be blinded by gifts and favors. Thus they might end up putting a muzzle on so that they stop criticizing the people who are giving these presents and favors. There is no value to hidden wisdom or unseen treasure. The foolish should hide their foolishness rather than the wise hide their wisdom.

Unjust anger (Sir 1:22-1:24)

“Unjust anger cannot be justified.

Anger tips the scale to one’s ruin.

Those who are patient

Stay calm

Until the right moment.

Then cheerfulness comes back to them.

They hold back their words

Until the right moment.

The lips of many tell of their good sense.”

There is no justification for unjust anger. If fact, getting angry may tip the scales to your ruin. The patient ones stay calm until the right moment, until their anger calms down. Then they are cheerful again. They hold back their words until the right moment. Many people will talk about their good sense.