The Reward of Rejection
May 1, 2020
Feast of St. Joseph the Worker
He came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord, when I feel rejected, help me to remember that you, too, experienced the solitude of misunderstanding, rejection, and slander. Give me the grace to offer it in union with your redemptive sacrifice.
1. Rejection Is Not Necessarily a Bad Thing: Being rejected can save one from poor life choices, the wrong group of friends, a mistaken path. But rejection stings the heart, and sometimes leaves permanent wounds. Jesus’s neighbors rejected him in “his own native place.” As a public figure, he no longer felt at home with those who knew him as the young son of Mary and Joseph. Our own experiences of rejection, if seen through the eyes of faith, can bring about growth in Christian maturity, and a meaningful identification with Christ who suffered the ultimate rejection for us, death on a cross.
2. Security in God the Father: Jesus was rejected by those who knew him as the carpenter’s son. Yet, those who looked a little deeper recognized him as the son of God and welcomed him in faith. They became his spiritual family, as are we. The experience of rejection teaches us not to put all our marbles in one jar—not in our qualities or talents, nor in our friends or acquaintances. Our security is meant to be grounded in who we are as sons and daughters of God. Our Christian identity, given at Baptism, is the solid inner core of our being, regardless of our popularity in mainstream society. Where did Christ put his security–in his neighbors or in his heavenly Father?
3. Faith in What Is Hidden: Jesus could not work many mighty deeds in Nazareth because of the lack of faith he found there. Imagine the spiritual graces, the healings, the moments of familial intimacy with Jesus those Nazarenes missed. We all know that it takes faith to believe what we don’t experience with our senses. Sometimes the distractions and busyness of life can prevent us from cultivating the spiritual sensitivity we need to live by faith. As Christ maintained his intrepid spirit through the habit of prayer, let us also look into the silence of our hearts and invite the light of the Holy Spirit to instruct us in matters of faith and help us to develop and maintain a strong lifelong habit of daily prayer.
Conversing with Christ: Dear Jesus, help me to set apart that time of day to escape “to the mountain” where I can be alone with you and my heavenly Father. Show me who I am in your eyes and give me the grace to live my identity in a society that may sometimes reject me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will spend a moment in quiet reflection, placing my security in you alone rather than in the attention or affection I receive from others.
For Further Reflection: Psalms 37:7: “Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait for him to act.”