Mark 6:7-13 | 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B
It’s easy to think the grass is greener on the other side, isn’t it? Then once on the other side, it’s easy to look back and see greener grass where we came from!
Jesus tried to guard against that mindset. He sent the disciples out with the instructions, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there” (v. 10). He meant once the pair had been welcomed, the disciples weren’t to disparage that hospitality by house-jumping within a community. His admonition also discouraged other households from trying to woo the disciples into their home with offers of better food or a better bed. The thing is, no house is perfect. It may look so from the outside, but once you see the inner workings, you will find a flaw.
Could Jesus’s words also apply to Christianity? When someone cares deeply about faith and their church, problems within a denomination can be crushing. I often find the weight of the scandals and justifications within the Catholic Church heavy.
Fifteen years ago, I became Catholic. It wasn’t that I had issues with my church. A life-long Episcopalian, I had a rich faith life and vital relationship with Jesus. But I felt called to become Catholic. The RCIA process was life-changing and my faith life grew even more. Even though I found the process so rich, I still struggled with some aspects of Catholicism. I knew I always would. But when I talked to God about it, I was at peace with my decision. I didn’t leave the Episcopal Church because the grass was greener on the Catholic side. I left because God called me to be Catholic.
I still struggle with those issues, and now that I know more about Catholicism, there are other issues I don’t agree with as well. In these fifteen years, I’ve seen several Catholics I know well become Episcopalian, and I understand why they did. But for me to leave the Catholic Church, now anyway, would be because somewhere else the grass looks greener. I know it’s not. Every place has their own issues.
Every church is a human construct, so no church is perfect. They are founded on perfection, on Jesus, but the church as it is here on earth is not perfect—they can’t be, because here on earth, churches are led by humans, and humans are not perfect.
Of course, Jesus made provisions for when a situation is intolerable. He told the disciples, “Whatever place does not welcome you…, leave there and shave the dust off your feet…” (v. 11). I bet He also told them to pray, to talk to God about it. Don’t leave a house lightly, but if things are bad enough that you do, “shake the dust off your feet” and go—don’t look back. Where you go won’t be perfect either but the flaws will be different. We’re all flawed and Jesus wants us to realize that, but, with God’s help, we have to decide which flaws we can live with and then, despite them, flourish wherever we find ourselves!