For our Gospel today Matthew brought together two lessons Jesus gave to his disciples when sending them out to give the Good News.
First he tells them how to behave when they were welcomed. He told them to stay on with their hosts, eating what was put before them. In preparation for such a reception, they were not to bring their own food or any money for staying at a Holiday Inn.
We are mistaken in thinking that Jesus was there telling his disciples to practice a virtue of holy Poverty. No, he just wanted them to become like family members with the people they were to visit.
Jesus also gave the disciples an instruction on how they to behave with people who would not accept them. “Whoever will not receive you—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.”
The only time the Bible prescribed dusting the feet was when God ordered Moses to take off his sandals because where the “Burning bush’ stood was holy ground. Then, the only time Jewish custom had people dusting the dirt from their sandals was when they were about to enter the holy ground of the Temple in Jerusalem.
In line with those two practices, what one is doing in dusting his feet on leaving an inhospitable town was really knocking off the dirt before entering the holiness of God’s wide world.