Summary: In contrast, Cynic philosophers of the era were known for their provision bag, staff, and big mouth!
My favorite ancient Greek philosopher is the stoic Epictetus (epic-TEE-tus), who taught, “It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters," which is at the heart of some Catholic Christian adaptations of various Cognitive Behavioral Therapies. Epictetus, who taught around the era of the early Church, quotes the popular opinion of the time that the distinguishing marks of a Cynic philosopher are “his provision-bag, his staff and his big mouth.”
What a contrast from our Gospel reading today when Jesus sends out the Twelve Apostles two-by-two and instructed them to take no provision bag, no food, no money, no second tunic, but they were, however, to wear sandals, and bring a walking stick.
The cynics had such self-sufficiency, and were so full of themselves (addicted to their egos) that it hurt the credibility of their message. The Apostles had to rely on the power of grace and Divine Providence, for their words, the hospitality of others; there was no perception of dominance or self-gain.
1. Removing interior impediments is a daily task for us. On a deeper level, if we spend dedicated time every morning, with few external distractions, it helps us to contemplate God’s infinite, merciful love, in Jesus Christ.
In our contemplation, as we gaze upon Him, and He gazes upon us, we realize that we were created for eternal bliss with Him, and that union with Him is the true fulfilment of all our desires.
This type of contemplation, most often on the Psalms, is not focused on the enemy of our salvation or his works. But notice the Apostles drove out many demons, and administered the Sacrament of the Sick with oil to heal. The message that speaks to me is that a deeper connection with God allows one, and even others, to experience a sense of increased inner freedom.
2). The Apostles reliance on God’s grace also helped them to face rejections—
They had to preach repentance, which means "such a change of mind about sin that it leads the person to turn away from sin." A change of course of action is proof of the change of mind in the person repenting. So, repentance necessitated not just some form of intellectual assent or emotional experience but a change in behavior and lifestyle.
Jesus tells them to expect rejection, and to shake the dust off their feet in testimony against them.
Shaking the dust is a “sacramental-like” ritual to clear the head as they moved on...notice that Jesus said, “shake the dust,” not to yell, “eat my dust,” and speed away!
The dust would accumulate on their sandals.
A Hasidic Jewish teaching suggests that the world is filled with sharp objects and stones like sharp words, and stoney hearts.
When someone rejected their message of repentence, it also meant no hospitality for them, which would have included providing water so visitors could wash their feet, symbolizing a transition from stranger to guest in the home of their host.
Shaking the dust off our feet helps to bring us from an excessive focus on ourselves and our pain and hurts, and a state of unhealthy attachment, to forgiveness, detachment and abandonment to Divine Providence.
Painful memories are wounding in the form of unwanted thoughts or when we voluntarily think about them, which makes things worst by our unhelpful thinking; such fixation may impede our relationship with God and slow our spiritual growth. Fortunately, God is ‘big,’ and we are small. We are very little. We recognize that some things in life—such as some types of painful memories—are beyond our own capacity to resolve, and in an act of trust, we ask others for help and depend on God to heal them.
Shaking the dust is to invite Our Lord into our painful memories and give them to Christ Crucified, for Him to place in His Most Holy Wounds. The fruit of this is to place our focus less on our own concerns and more on union with God, growth in the spiritual life, and our goal of beatitude. Amen.