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14 Sunday in Ordinary Time
Growing up, we were surrounded by rich relatives while we we were a poor family among them. We were not included in their parties, reunions and affairs. Rich relatives would pass us by on the road in their cars and never give us a ride. But when I was ordained a priest, while walking down the street, every car that passed by wanted to take me where I was going.
Jesus suffered the experience of rejection in His own life. Admiration and adulation marked his presence in other places. But in his hometown, He was shunned by his townmates. Was it something He did that led them to mistrust his capacity? No, it was rather, familiarity. They thought they knew him well enough – He was just a carpenter, a son or relative of ordinary people they knew.
The result was amazing. The gospel admits that Jesus was limited by this cold reception he found at home. While He worked many wonders beyond His hometown, there He was not able to perform the same things. He was so bewildered at their lack of faith. Absence of faith in the Lord closes the door to the torrents of blessings He wants to impart on His people. Closed hearts limit the possibilities of the burning heart of God.
Perhaps many of us have felt a sense of rejection by other people. There are persons who feel unaccepted by the family of the man or woman they married. Some people are avoided by others whom they want to befriend. In school or at work, there are cliques that somehow exclude others in order to protect the group. Even at home, there are people who feel that they probably belong somewhere else – because they are rejected by their spouses, by parents, by siblings, by loved ones.
Rejection is frightening because it alienates us from the people we love. It is painful because it makes us realize we are unwanted and unappreciated. It is traumatic because many times it leads us to retreat from others and live in our own world where we brood on our wounded feelings and our crushed sense of self-worth. Most of all, rejection is debilitating because it limits us; it diminishes the contribution we can give to others and to the world around us.
While people around Jesus embraced this attitude of rejection, we see in the life of the Lord that He continued to be a welcoming Savior. His response was not indifference or anger or resignation but love and commitment. Though He was sad and disappointed, He did not allow their rejection to defeat His dreams and plans. In Jesus, a rejecting people met a welcoming God.
Do you identify yourself with the rejection Jesus suffered? Remember that you are not alone. Jesus stands by you. He has always been on the side of those who were rejected, ostracized and pushed to the margins. Let Jesus’ attitude be yours also. While people may not like you, continue to love, to share, to shine. Do not allow others’ lack of love and understanding kill your joy. Do you reject people in your life today? Just because they are poor or ugly or unpleasant? Remember what happened to Jesus’ townmates. They did not receive miracles, blessings and graces because the closed their hearts to the one God sent. Let us all pray for a welcoming heart, a heart that imitates the heart of our Savior Jesus Christ.