2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Last Sunday the gospel was about Jesus healing the woman with a hemorrhage and bringing the daughter of Jairus back to life. In today’s gospel Jesus returns to his home village. On the Sabbath he goes to the local synagogue to read the scriptures and teach those present. The people in the village know Jesus and his parents so those who hear him teach are astonished at his words. We read, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? And they took offense at him.”
The people in Jesus’ village had a certain kind of prejudice. After all, this is Joseph and Mary’s son. He’s a carpenter. He’s one of us, no different than we are. How can he be knowledgeable enough to teach us? His audacity to teach them is offensive to them. What Jesus experiences is not unusual. How often is someone not appreciated by us because she or he is a person of color, dressed in old clothes, is of a different religion? How could that person offer anything of value to me? Because of the villagers’ perceptions about Jesus they lack the faith to hear his message or be open to his healings. They believe they know Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary, but they don’t know that this same Jesus is the son of God, the messiah. How often do we misjudge people or write them off because of our often false perceptions of them?
In the first reading Ezekiel is told by God to go to a hard-hearted community to share God’s message. He knows he probably will fail, but at least the people will know a prophet has spoken to them. Just like Jesus, many of the prophets faced rejection because of the people’s lack of openness or faith and false perceptions.
Paul in the second reading seems to have the answer for us. In spite of any successes he experienced, he also knew failure. He is like us who have experienced good things in our lives, but also experienced failures. Paul tells us, “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Is this true of us? Are we able to accept hardships and still be women and men of faith who are open to what God says to us and asks of us?
Jesus was rejected. The prophets were often rejected. We may have been rejected by others. Are we ever the cause of others being rejected?
Do I ever cause people who appear different from me to feel rejected? Why?
How do I handle rejection?