WDTPRS Pentecost Thursday – footware and flight from the world

St. AmbroseBack in 2008 I made some PODCAzTs for each day of the Octave of Pentecost.   For Pentecost Thursday you can go here.

The Gospel for Mass is from Luke 9:1-6:

At that time, having summoned the twelve apostles, Jesus gave them power and authority over all the devils, and to cure diseases. And He sent them forth to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said to them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staff, nor wallet, nor bread, nor money; neither have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and do not receive you – go forth from that town, and shake off even the dust from your feet for a witness against them. And going forth, they went about from village to village, preaching the gospel and working cures everywhere.

You see variations in the parallel Gospel passages.  In Matthew 10:9-10 the Lord says: “Do not possess gold, nor silver, nor money in your purses: Nor scrip for your journey, nor two coats, nor shoes, nor a staff; for the workman is worthy of his meat.”  Mark 6:8-9 says: “And he commanded them that they should take nothing for the way, but a staff only; no scrip, no bread, nor money in their purse, But to be shod with sandals, and that they should not put on two coats.”

St. Ambrose of Milan (+397) referred to this pericope in De fuga saeculi (Concerning flight from the world) 5, 25.   The Lord sends the Apostles out without sandals.  Ambrose uses the sandals, of course, to explain something else.

At this moment in De fuga saeculi, Ambrose is talking about how the things and goods of this world are nothing, they are vain.  We should pass them by and learn how to discern the things of Christ.  But it is very difficult to “see” the nothingness of the world and the things that are God’s.  The devil could not see who Christ was.

This is a great vision.  But if you wish to see it, remove the sandals from your feet. (Exodus 3:5)  Remove every chain of sin.  Remove the chains of the world.  Leave behind earthly sandals.  Jesus sent the apostles without sandals, without money, gold and silver, (Cf. Mark 6.8-9 – where the Apostles are told to retain their sandals; Matt 10.9-10; Luke 9.3) so that they would not carry earthly things with them.  The one who seeks to do good is praised not for his sandals but for the swiftness and grace of his feet.  The Scripture says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Is 52:7; Rom 10:15) Therefore remove the sandals from your feet, that they may be beautiful for preaching the Gospel. “Remove” (Exod. 3.5), the text says, not “bind.”  “Remove,” so that you may pass by and may find that the unholy man whom you admired on earth is nothing and can be nothing,  Pass by, therefore, that is, flee from earth, where there is evil and where there is avarice.  Likewise, David says to you, “Turn away from evil and do good” (Ps 33 (34).15) To turn away is assuredly to flee; moreover, evil is on earth and good is in heaven.  For this reason also he continues, “Seek after peace and pursue it” (Ibid.)  Peace is in heaven.  Indeed, He who came from heaven said, “Peace I give to you, my peace I leave to you” (John 14:27)  And so, because we are to flee and turn away from evils, whereas evils are on earth and iniquities are on earth, let us flee from earthly things, so that iniquities may not overtake us, for they overtook even holy David, just as he himself bears witness, saying, “My iniquities have overtaken me, and I was not able to see” (Ps 39 (40).13)  For the eye of the soul is blinded by the smoke of iniquity, so that it does not see things that are clear.  Thus indeed Laban was unable to see Jacob’s goods (Cf. Gen. 31.33-35), and the prince of the world could not see the glory of Christ (cf. John 12:31).

Though we have to work with and care for the things of this world, all created things – though good – can attract us away from God.  We have to be in the world but not of it, not too weighted down in our feet, as it were, which are supposed to allow us to fly forward toward the ultimate goal of heaven.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. KAS says:

    I would like to quote that last paragraph of yours from this article–please?
    I’ve been looking for a great quote for detachment that had a nice approachable feel to it so students can see that it is about THEM.

  2. EWTN Rocks says:


    As a student, I agree that too much attachment can be bad and take away from flying toward heaven. I myself have focused too much in certain areas of learning and not enough in others – a realization that came to me last night. However, a move toward 100% detachment would be counterproductive. Balance is key. With this in mind I will make significant changes that will affect overall focus, time, and energy spent in certain areas of study; however, I plan to continue to refer to Fr. Z’s blog for help learning Latin (as I’ve made a substantial investment in language learning materials), but probably not more than a couple of hours a few times a week. I appreciate Fr. Z’s efforts to educate his readers. Fr. Z, thank you for everything you do for us!

  3. The Cobbler says:

    “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. Satan fell because of his gravity.”
    ~G.K. Chesteron

  4. KAS says:

    Detachment is not about total rejection of all good of this world, it is about keeping a correct relationship to the things of this world.

    It is about enjoying what you have without being owned by it. It is about being able to be sad at the loss of some good without the loss ruining your life.

    Detachment is a very good thing because if you are detached then you have a freedom with material things that allows enjoyment or release with equality. Wear the coat or give it to someone who needs it worse. To look in the closet and know you do not need that third or fourth or whatever number even though it is your color and you love the cut and style and fabric–but you have others– so you give it away.

    It is a really great ideal–freedom! Keep or let it go and it is good.

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