The ephemeral inner fragility: when coping with rejection
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Rejection is the blurred love. The feeling of being rejected is the clear sign that you love. So, the most confusing aspect of love is rejection.
When the prophetic vocation of Ezekiel began, God warned him about the future rejection in the ministry: “I am sending you to the impudent and stubborn people; whether they hear or refuse to hear, you will speak to them and they will know that a prophet lives among them.” (Cf. Ezekiel 2:2-5)
Though the warning of God pictures the impossible mission, the prophet must speak because the Spirit of God has entered him and set him on his feet. He has no hold of himself; he is possessed by love. Despite the rejection that he will experience, this same love will keep the prophet in action. The prophet will feel weak within because of the negative response from the people; but his persistence and feeling of rejection will be the symptoms of him being possessed by love.
The inner weakness of the man of God is a channel for God’s power to shine. To keep him from boasting, God does allow weakness to remind him that it is not by his power alone.
Paul, the great missionary to the gentiles bears a thorn in his flesh to control his proud boast and great sense of elation - difficult to name the particular weakness of the apostle. To get rid of this weakness, Paul prayed three times but God keeps repeating the same chorus “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9)
At last, Paul’s coping strategy was to feel contented with his weaknesses and with the insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities on his way. Paul owns God’s silence and response to his prayers by saying “whenever I am weak, then I am strong”. He boasts all the more gladly of his weaknesses in order to allow the power of God to act. (Cf. 2 Corinthians 12:10)
Jesus left his home place of Nazareth. The time he spent outside his town is unknown. What is well known is that after he returns to his hometown with his disciples, he goes to the synagogue to teach on a Sabbath day; but his neighbours gathered around him in their synagogue refuse to welcome his teaching; they take offence at his origin. The townspeople are astounded; they argue “where did this man get all this wisdom and deeds of power!” (Cf. Mark 6:1-3)
Jesus defines the complete rejection from his neighbor and relatives as normal; he uses the historical recurrent facts to cope with the strange behavior of his neighbors: “I am not the first and will never be the last to be rejected by those whom they love; prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”
The reaction against Jesus’ new outlook affects him to the point that he could not work miracles among those who don’t welcome him. Though he is amazed at the unbelief of his own people towards him, he continues his ministry with those who welcome him. Jesus does not force himself on anyone. (Cf. Mark 6:4-6)
Jesus’ view on rejection is logical and vital. His belief may be put in words as follows: “if some reject me, there are many other people who need my love. I will not stop loving.” You too must be contented with your daily weakness by offering God rooms to display his power. Every feeling of rejection is an opportunity given to declare your love to those who will cherish your services and presence.
It is often normal. Everyone appreciates differently the sudden achievement of a local champion. Rejection and backbiting are as well normal; but it is never normal to be paralyzed by other people’s comments and views. Remember to see strange things as external graces.
Fr. Simon Assogba, SMA