Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on shaking dust off our feet, the context of scriptures in the Gospels and what it means to be Church.  What must happen BEFORE you shake anything?  This reflection is a call to action.  Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Please read Mark 5:21-43. #GreatCatholicPreaching #Catholic #BenU1887

{mp3}B 46 2012 15b Ord{/mp3}

For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 7/15/2012The 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Please pause this audio and read Mark 6:7-13.
    Context is everything.  I am continually amused at how people interpret the passage, “Jesus wept” in the Gospel of John.  We get stuck on Jesus being emotional in this passage, because it would make Jesus so much like us.  What we don’t know is that the story leading up to Jesus wept, within its context, shows that Jesus had been signaling all along that he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead and didn’t need to weep. Jesus was, in fact, frustrated with everyone around him who could figure out.  He was crying tears of absolute frustration.  Check it out in the Gospel of John, Chapter 11.
    The passage in the Gospel of Mark has a similar passage that we like to focus on all of the time: “If any place would refuse to receive you, shake the dust off your feet as testimony against them.”  I would hazard to say that, at times, we are pretty self-serving in the way that we use this passage.  Our context does not rule out this understanding of the passage, but there is more going on here.
This story from the Gospel of Mark could be about the sending out of the Twelve and it could mean simply that the Twelve had the power to heal like Jesus did.  Yet, the placement of this story in the Gospel of Mark is important.  As we hear the reflections, homilies and sermons that are from the previous two weeks readings of scripture, we should pay attention to the order in which the Gospel writer places them.  
Two weeks ago, the Gentiles believed Jesus and they were healed.  Last week, the Jewish people who were waiting for the Messiah, reject Jesus because they know him too well as a member of their community.  This week, we see Jesus send out Twelve to heal and evangelize, preaching repentance.
    This is a monumental happening.  We often cite Pentecost as the beginning of the Church.  This passage, with a priest sending out others he has called to the same ministry, we can say that this is very much a part of the beginnings of the Church.  This passage, gives us some meanings of being Church.
    We can see here that Jesus is the center of the Church.  Church is also sent out.  The Church is there to heal. The Church is there to call people to repentance. The Church is about being active in alleviating what ails the world.  The Church is, well, active.
    So often, in all the “New Liturgical Changes,” Social Justice versus Devotional Church wars, we lose sight of a very important fact.  The Church must be active.  In context, shaking the dust off the feet only comes after the Church has been actively engaging the world to heal the sick, call sinners to repentance and be a moving force.  The Church is not to seek for riches, which is why the Twelve were sent out with little and asked little.  This means, even more that the Church needs to be genuine, authentic and humble.
    A man worked at a firm and constantly complained about it to his friends, neighbors, family and associates.  He complained about the place to everyone, but to the people with whom he worked.  When his oldest son grew older, the dad offered to see if he could get his son a job at the malcontent company.  The son replied, “Dad, why would I want to work at such an awful place?”
    Hurt, the father asked, “Why would you think it is such an awful place?”
    The son replied, “Because the people are the place and you are not happy.”
    The people are the place and you are not happy.  If we want people to become Catholic, if we want them to love Jesus Christ, then we need to be the place.  We need to be the Church that we are looking for within ourselves.
    Are we active in the Church or just spectators watching from the sidelines?  Are we outward thinking beyond the walls of the parish, or are we cloistered within? Are we inviting people to a new life, or are we ignoring them as we focus on our own salvation?  Are we a healing force in the world for Jesus Christ, or are we just shaking our heads instead of shaking hands?  Are we making a difference or are we just sitting on the sidelines waiting for Father to tell us what to do?
    The Apostolic Constitution on the Laity tells us that lay people are to change the structures of society to be more just and merciful.  If we do not create within us a justice with which we deal with all people, then who will know what justice is?  If we do not let the love of God flow through us in active service to the world, then how will anyone know what God’s love is?  If we do not work to heal others of their pain, in whatever form it comes, then how will others ever know the healing power of Jesus?  If we are not more genuine and authentic, then how will people know and believe that God is real?
    The passage today, within its context is only about shaking the dust off our feet AFTER we have actually done something that would cause others to take notice and make a decision of whether we are wrong or right.  Too often, in the University I hear students say, “I USED to be a Christian. I USED to be Catholic.” Why do they say this?  The answer is usually because their family only practiced their faith in a perfunctory way, according to them.  They were seeking for more meaning and a more genuinely authentic faith.
    We need to be that authenticity.  We need to be that genuine sacrificial faith.  We need to be that healing active presence.  We need to answer the call, take only what we have, stay in a place and be Church, be real, be with, for and about Jesus.
    What is it in your life today that you can take one step toward being Church in this way?  What can you do to be healing?  What can you do to be more just? What can you do to be active? What can you do to be real? Genuine? Loving?  Whatever it is, I want you to write on a slip of paper and put it in your pocket, your pocket book, somewhere where you will constantly be interrupted by it.  I want you to read that slip of paper for the next week and ask, “How far am I toward being Church?”
    The shaking of the dust can only come after you have been active.  What are you going to do to be active for Christ this week?  Amen?  Amen.
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