Daily Reflection
October 5th, 2000
Ray Bucko, S.J.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
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Job 19:21-27
Psalms 27:7-9, 13-14
Luke 10:1-12

When I first began anthropological field work on Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia, I quickly notice an interesting and rather persistent phenomenon.  When walking from village to village people would call out to me from their houses along the road: “Chon Amerika, Fay to! Munge mai! Munga ick!” 

I didn’t know much of the local language, Chuukese, but certainly recognized the word “America.”  I asked the student who helped me with translations what was going on and he explained that it was customary to invite passersby to come and visit, especially if the family was cooking food or eating.  They were saying: “American, come here and eat fish and eat bread fruit.”  I soon learned enough Chuukese to give a hearty Thank You and keep on going.  Once a family whom I had passed several times sent out emissaries:  two children to take me by the hand, bring me in from the road, and sit me down to a sumptuous feast.

In the gospel reading today our immediate inclination is to identify with those who were sent out to spread the Word.  We certainly are a mobile society and as Christians we are preeminently a people who are sent.  We all have wonderful stories of being welcomed to grand hospitality by members of our own communities and indeed by strangers too.  Unfortunately we all also have experiences of being rejected, not being heard, or being misunderstood.  While few of us are “preachers” we all preach with our lives, our struggles and our interactions with others.  We are all called to be prophets in our own ways.

But how often do we see ourselves as the OTHER parties in this, a story of Christ’s missioning and being missioned to?  For indeed we are not only a people who are sent but we are also a people to whom others are sent.  Just as we journey the road spreading the Good News we are also sometimes in those houses to whom others are sent.  How willing are we to open the doors of our houses and admit the prophet and hear her or his words?  How frequently do we come out from under the headphones, behind the television tube or off our back porches to the front of the house to scan the road for the prophets sent to us?  Unfortunately, in this world we need to be careful and discerning about prophets, especially those quick to present themselves as such, and strangers.  Nevertheless how many times have we missed the Good News because God sent it in a package that seemed to us too other:  a different gender, political alignment, faith, skin color, or culture?

It’s an awful thing to have to shake the dust from one’s feet—fortunately Christ also teaches us persistence in mission much like the parable of the woman dealing with the judge so foot shaking is not something we should do lightly!  If anyone could have shaken dust off his feet, it was Job, of the first reading who remains the prophet of persistence and fidelity.  So too it is an awful thing to miss the opportunity of inviting in a prophet, someone who will teach US something new about the Kingdom of God.  Fortunately we can look forward and not behind at those missed opportunities, for God is the most persistent of all and sends us many subtle prophets where and when we least expect them.

I was taken with the warm hospitality and welcome that was yelled to me from the road as I walked from village to village back in Chuuk.  But I was most taken with the persistence of that family who sent their children to finally bring me home. 

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