It seems unthinkable that anyone would reject Jesus, but members of his family and the community where He grew up do just that. Why? The reason is not rational. His family and friends say they “know” Jesus and they ask where ‘did He get’ all this knowledge and power to work miracles. To them, Jesus was another ordinary carpenter like His father. The family and friends of Jesus could not accept Jesus as God. Sometimes I think we act the same way.
Read again the first reading from Ezekiel. Ezekiel and most of the people from Israel have been moved to Babylon. They have now lived there maybe ten or twenty years. Ezekiel is now writing about what the people did before they were moved to Babylon. You may think: does not a prophet write about the future? In some cases, yes, but often they look at how God worked in your life to remind you what went wrong so you do not make the same mistake again. And in this reading, it is obvious, the people turned away, rejected, God. God informed Ezekiel that he would not succeed as a prophet because just as the people rejected God, they would also reject Ezekiel.
In the gospel last week, we read that Jesus healed the woman who had hemorrhages for twelve years and gave life to the twelve-year-old girl. These are not ordinary events. People were astounded and in awe praising God. Now Jesus returns to Nazareth. And because He does not do any great miracle, they reject Him. And we are told Jesus was surprised at their lack of faith. We know that feeling well. Think of the times you experienced rejection. Probably most memorable would be the time you asked someone out for a date, and they turned you down. Or you applied for a job that you really wanted and were rejected. How did you feel? It is easy for one who has been rejected to lose heart. It is easy to give up and just quit. In some cases, when rejected in love, you might stop loving. For others, you may grow angry and become bitter and resentful. We must understand that rejection will happen in our lives, but it does not dictate who we are or how we live our life. Listen to Paul. He said three times he prayed to God to remove the thorn from his side and God finally tells Paul that His grace is enough for him. God did not remove the thorn. Paul was rejected. But Paul did not quit or give up. Rather he rejoiced in his affliction and thought of his affliction as a grace to motivate him to do more for God. That is the mystery of rejection. Rejection is not negative unless we allow it to be.
What Paul discovered is that rejection produces negative feelings, but we do not let them take over our life. Too often our world tells us we need different things to be happy and when we get them, we are not happy or happiness lasts only a short time. No, we find happiness in doing our ordinary activities with great love. Every little thing we do can be directed toward God and His glory. It is when we serve God that we find true happiness and joy. And when we all come to together as a family to serve God, we help each other find that happiness and joy.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen