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When to Let It Go

February 4, 2021   Thursday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time (Lectionary: 326)

Reading I   Heb 12:18-19, 21-24
Brothers and sisters:
You have not approached that which could be touched
and a blazing fire and gloomy darkness
and storm and a trumpet blast
and a voice speaking words such that those who heard
begged that no message be further addressed to them.
Indeed, so fearful was the spectacle that Moses said,
“I am terrified and trembling.”
No, you have approached Mount Zion
and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
and countless angels in festal gathering,
and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven,
and God the judge of all,
and the spirits of the just made perfect,
and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and the sprinkled Blood that speaks more eloquently
than that of Abel.

Responsorial Psalm   48:2-3ab, 3cd-4, 9, 10-11
R. (see 10) O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
Great is the LORD and wholly to be praised
in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, fairest of heights,
is the joy of all the earth.
R. O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
Mount Zion, “the recesses of the North,”
the city of the great King.
God is with her castles;
renowned is he as a stronghold.
R. O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
As we had heard, so have we seen
in the city of the LORD of hosts,
In the city of our God;
God makes it firm forever.
R. O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.
O God, we ponder your mercy
within your temple.
As your name, O God, so also your praise
reaches to the ends of the earth.
Of justice your right hand is full.
R. O God, we ponder your mercy within your temple.

Alleluia   Mk 1:15
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand;
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   Mk 6:7-13
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick
–no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

By Victoria Mastrangelo

I’m a pretty stubborn person. I’m that person that always has to be right and always wants to win. It’s a trait that makes me great at trivia but also a super annoying friend and know-it-all. For this reason, it’s hard for me to understand Jesus’ command to leave behind those that don’t welcome or listen to the Twelve during their journeys. Don’t they have a message to get across? Don’t they have to teach the Truth? Don’t they have the authority to make people listen to them?

I used to be the person that tried over and over to convince someone to listen to me and to agree with me.

Over time, I have been humbled by God in my work and in my conversations to be more discerning about my approach. Not everyone is going to be open to listening and not everyone is going to hear and be transformed by my truth, even when it’s about the Truth.

This spirit of discernment has taught me when to pursue a topic and when to let it go. At times, persistence in a conversation to win or persuade can do more harm than good. I am sure that I have turned people that I have talked with away from my message by the ugliness of my approach. 

Jesus’ advice in the Gospel today is simple: don’t take anything with you, approach those who are welcoming and ready to listen and move on from those that are not.

It was not the Twelve’s job to convert, nor is it mine. Only God can do that and only when a person is ready to hear it, to welcome it. It is the Holy Spirit’s task to tend to the soil, to prepare and enrich it, so that it can be ready to welcome the seed of the Word. 

This task of figuring out when to push forward and dive deeper into the conversation and when to walk away is one that I am still figuring out. I still struggle with leaving a conversation with a sense that my message was unwelcome, scoffed at, or ignored and feeling like I have failed in my task to evangelize. Jesus reminds me that sometimes the right call is to just “shake the dust off” and leave room for God to work.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Victoria Mastrangelo is a wife, mother of three, and high school theology teacher in Houston. She loves to read multiple books at once, research, write, drink coffee, and travel, as her dream job is to be a perpetual student. Her favorite saints are Edith Stein, Ignatius of Loyola, Dorothy Day and John Paul II which tell you a lot about her spirituality and love of the feminine genius and social justice. You can find her on Instagram here and more of her writing here.

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