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Home » Daily Readings

And They Shook the Dust Off Their Sandals

Submitted by on Saturday, 9 May 2009No Comment

From Antioch to Iconium

 

The selection from Acts 13:44-51 is a landmark of sorts in the spread of Christianity.  We have seen Peter baptizing the first Gentile (Acts 10) and the Jerusalem Church approving it in Acts 11.  Also in Acts 11 we find the Church in Antioch (Syria) emerging; it is from this Church that Paul and Barnabas will go forth to another Antioch (Pisidia).  This is the place where Barnabas and Paul announce that they are now turning to the Gentiles.  They also demonstrated this turning away from Jews by shaking the dust off their sandals (see also 18:6).  The gesture is originally described in Mark´s gospel as the response of the missionary to a town or place that rejects the Good News.

The gesture of shaking the dust off one´s feet is something done among Jews after they have travelled through pagan lands.  It is therefore related to an act of decontamination from what is unclean.  As used in the context of Christian missions, it is a strong gesture against those who refuse the Gospel.  Jesus identifies himself with his emissaries to such an extent that he could say:  ¨Whoever rejects you, rejects me.  Whoever rejects me, rejects the one who sent me.¨  (see Luke 10:16; also Mark 9:37).  The dust of the land shaken off the emissary´s feet does not enter the presence of the one who sent him.  And since the one who has sent is also the one sent by God, those who rejected the Gospel have also rejected the message that could have saved them from judgment.  Worthy of note here is Paul´s warning to those who insulted him at Corinth.  After shaking the dust from his sandals he tells them:  ¨Whatever happens to you will be your own fault! I am not to blame. From now on I am going to preach to the Gentiles¨  The gesture puts an end to any attempts at evangelizing any further those who have rejected the Gospel.

The expression “shake the dust off the sandals” appear in the following passages:

Acts 13:51; 18:6
Luke 9:5
Luke 10:11
Mark 6:11
Matthew 10:14

A related article in Otium Sanctum:  And He Sent Them Out Two by Two

Acts 13:44-51
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44But the next sabbath day, the whole city almost came together, to hear the word of God.
45And the Jews seeing the multitudes, were filled with envy, and contradicted those things which were said by Paul, blaspheming.
46Then Paul and Barnabas said boldly: To you it behoved us first to speak the word of God: but because you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold we turn to the Gentiles.
47For so the Lord hath commanded us: I have set thee to be the light of the Gentiles; that thou mayest be for salvation unto the utmost part of the earth.
48And the Gentiles hearing it, were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to life everlasting, believed.
49And the word of the Lord was published throughout the whole country.
50But the Jews stirred up religious and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas: and cast them out of their coasts.
51But they, shaking off the dust of their feet against them, came to Iconium.
Luke 10:16
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16He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.
Mark 9:37
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37John answered him, saying: Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, who followeth not us, and we forbade him.
Acts 13:51; 18:6
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1351But they, shaking off the dust of their feet against them, came to Iconium.
186But they gainsaying and blaspheming, he shook his garments, and said to them: Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.
Luke 9:5
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5And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off even the dust of your feet, for a testimony against them.
Luke 10:11
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11Even the very dust of your city that cleaveth to us, we wipe off against you. Yet know this, that the kingdom of God is at hand.
Mark 6:11
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11And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you; going forth from thence, shake off the dust from your feet for a testimony to them.
Matthew 10:14
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14And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words: going forth out of that house or city shake off the dust from your feet.

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