Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Luke 10:1-12
Jesus said to His disciples, “Whatever town you enter, if they do not receive you, the dust of the town that clings to your feet, “shake off and move on to another town, with faith and hope.” This means that rejections and failures are parts of our lives. We have to shake off the dust of rejections, failures, and disappointments, instead of carrying them with us. We will surely encounter different kinds of failures. We fail every day, we fail in our relationships, we fail at work, and we fail in school, and we experience failures during many times.
We can identify with these failures from Jesus Himself! Jesus experienced failure and rejections many times. Many people did not accept Jesus and His teachings. Jesus did not win over everyone, and Jesus experienced rejections on different occasions. Before Jesus sent out His first disciples, Jesus gave them a warning: “You will be like lambs among wolves.” There will be people, who do not accept your peace. There will be people, who will not welcome you. When this happens, “shake the dust from your feet and move on.” Jesus shows His disciples how to deal with rejection and failure by shaking the dust off their feet. We know that none of us likes to hear that we are going to have to face disappointment or rejection in our lives.
Now, I realize that failure can be an opportunity to learn. I think sometimes we forget this truth in our success-oriented world. Someone said, “We celebrate our successes and learn from our mistakes.” I have learned that failures, mistakes, and regrets are all learning opportunities. In a recent issue of Atlantic Monthly Magazine, there was an article about how important it is for parents to know to let their children fail, so they can learn from their mistakes and grow into confident adults, who can shake the dust off their feet whenever they experience failure. The article makes the point that parents should allow their children to feel confident in taking risks and to face problems with strength and courage.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Failure is a bend in the road, not the end of the road. Learn from failure and keep moving forward!” The moon will still rise, the sun will shine, and the birds will sing. Let us appreciate that we are still able to wake up to a new day. A new day signifies another chance to turn things around for the better. Remember that most of the failures that we face in our lives are not permanent. Don’t take up a permanent solution for a temporary problem. We should know that we will be able to make peace with ourselves one day. We will be able to slowly build up that relationship with our family or close friends!
Sometimes, we may feel that failure is like a dead end, but it’s really just a sharp-edged rock on the road. Failure may poke at the tires of our vehicles on our journeys, but they can be repaired. We are able to remedy obstacles in the road by repairing that puncture and continuing on our journeys. Even if we are unable to patch it up all on our own, we are able to call in a mechanic to assist us by telling the people in our lives that we need help. Whether it’s help in terms of moral support or assisting us with our work, we have ‘mechanics’ in our lives that are ready and willing to help us.
Failure is not the end of the world! In fact, we should not be afraid to fail. We should expect failure at times. And when we experience failure, we should exercise Jesus’ ritual of failure – “to shake the dust and move on.” This means: We have to do our best so we do not want to worry about the outcome! Because of our human nature, we have lots of unnecessary worries and burdens in our lives.
Let me share with you a small story: An Anglican minister, John Wesley, was waking with a person who had lots of worries and troubles in his life. This person said to John Wesley, “I do not know what I shall do with all my worries and troubles.” At the same moment, John Wesley saw a cow looking over a stone wall. Wesley asked the person, “Do you know why that cow is looking over the wall.?” The man said, “No.” Wesley said, “The cow is looking over the stone wall because the cow cannot see through it. That is what you must do with your wall of worries.”
Like this person, we all have different kinds of walls of worries. We have to look beyond these walls to see the light and hope that is there. If we are focusing only on our worries, we are not able to see the blessings that are in front of us – that is in the present moment. Let us stop the unnecessary burdens and worries of our pasts and try to live in the present moment. Let us remember the words of Tony De Mello, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift! This is why it is called the present.”
Let us remember that life is a journey, and no matter where we come from, our destination is the same. As we continue heading toward the Kingdom, let us remember to “pack our baggage light” because God is here to provide all that we need!
We are celebrating Independence Day: The birthday of our country. We are celebrating the freedom of life, the freedom of liberty, and the freedom of the pursuit of happiness! Let us pray that God will continue to send His Spirit to touch the hearts and minds of all, who cherish the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And as God have called us to be one nation, grant that under your providence, our country may share God’s blessings with all the peoples of the earth, with peace and good will on Independence Day …and every day!