Today’s situation in the Gospel must have been very painful for Jesus. He had gone home for a short visit, but instead of receiving a warm welcome He was greeted with a cold shoulder. When he started to speak, they could hardly believe their ears. His words were so powerful and profound, the people were amazed. Then some said, “But we know Him, isn’t this the son of Joseph and Mary?” “They used to live down the road, you know, on the other side of the tracks.” “Didn’t He used to work for His father making furniture, and yokes for the ox?” So they turned away from Him.
They rejected their own. They knew Him growing up, they knew His family, and they had Him figured out, so where did He get off teaching them in the synagogue? It would seem that very little in the world hurts as much as rejection. We humans need to be needed, and like to be liked, and there are all kinds of rejection: to be left out of things as school, not to be chosen for a team, to be told at work that someone else got the promotion, to hear from a spouse that they want a divorce.
All these experiences can shatter us and can have lasting effects. To be lonely, not to be part of anything, can be a fate worse than death itself. Christ’s whole life was for others, He never worked a miracle for Himself. His first concern was always for others, especially the poor, the sinner, and those who were rejected. This rejection by His own people was really only a foreshadowing of the day when He, the God-Man, the creator of the world, the one who helped countless numbers of people, would hang on a cross. Hung on a cross with only an aging mother and one disciple to comfort Him, everyone else left Him.
It would seem that there is not a human emotion that we experience that Christ did not experience first. But Christ never gives up, never says to heck with it. Right after this setback, He sends out the twelve to do as He has done, to be extensions of Himself. Even when hearing the news that John the Baptist has been killed by King Herod, still He does not give up.
Jesus kept going and doing what had to be done no matter what the cost. He kept going until the final and ultimate rejection: death on a cross, the final rejection that would lead to resurrection.
The problem that people had with Jesus can be summed up in one word: ordinariness. In spite of His wisdom and His miraculous cures, He appeared to just be ordinary. He was a local carpenter with ordinary relatives who lived in ordinary neighborhoods, how could He be the Son of God?
Perhaps some of us have the same trouble. Every week we read from a book, just an ordinary book: we sometimes find it hard to believe that when we read from this book it is God speaking to us. Bread, wine: cannot get much more ordinary than that. It may be difficult for us to appreciate that in a little while this ordinary bread and wine will be the very body and blood of the Son of God.
Isn’t that true to life? God often speaks to us, comes to us, not through angels or thunder and lightning, but through ordinary events in our ordinary lives. St. Paul tells us today about some of his problems He does not go into much detail, only to say that he could not stand it any longer. He tells us, “I prayed urgently to the Lord, asking Him to help me, to take this thing away.” And the answer was always the same: My grace is enough for you for My power is perfected in weakness. Whatever Paul’s problem was, it was not removed by God but he was given the strength to bear it.
I am sure most of us know what that is like, praying your heart out, asking, pleading for something and nothing happens. And slowly we come to realize, like Paul, that Jesus went through the same thing. He also prayed to His father, “Let this cup pass from Me.” We do not always get what we ask for, but God will always give us what we need.
All of us at some time in life will carry a cross. How you carry it is important. Where is your cross? Where do you really hurt right now? Only you know. That is where Jesus is at work. Don’t run from it because then you run from Jesus who wants to meet you. In the words of a poet, where sorrow is, there is holy ground. And how else but through the broken hearts may the Lord Christ enter in? Do not reject Christ; never try to go it alone. Instead, turn to the one who carried His cross, and who told us, “Fear Not, I am with you until the end of the world.”