“But Jesus passed through their midst and went away” (Luke 4:30)
Most of us have encountered rejection in one way or another. People telling you that they don’t like you or where you come from. It is always a sad experience. But one thing I know about rejection, from my own personal experience, is that the most painful part of rejection itself but the story you tell yourself about the rejection. For example, you went for a job interview and you were rejected. You begin to tell yourself,” oh that was because I am not good enough,” and things like that. The story we tell ourselves about our rejection determines how we cope with any form of rejection from people or society. You see people who say things like, “maybe it wasn’t the right time,” or “I do not know the whole story” or “there is something in this for me to learn”, etc. They make sense of the experience in a whole new and different way. So the story you tell yourself about your rejection determines how it hurts you.
Jesus, who was rejected in the gospel of today by his own people, can help us navigate through the experience of rejection. Keep in mind the Fifth Rule of St. Ignatius which says: “In time of desolation never make a change in your resolution because, in consolation it is the good spirit who guides and counsels, so in desolation it is the bad spirit.” Our text today says that Jesus ” passed through the midst of them and went away.” The pain of rejection and opposition do not stop Spirit-empowered ministry. Why did Jesus pass through the midst of them? Jesus was rooted and grounded in the love of the Father, a love which in the second reading “does not come to an end.” Jesus recognizes that he is united with the Father.
Most of the people who allow rejection to hit them terribly hard are people who take the experience so personal. They always believe that the rejection is about them. This is because their isolated ego is standing on its own and thus, fragile. This false self has to die before we can discover our true self. Your “false” self is how you define yourself outside of love, relationship, or divine union. After you have spent many years building this separate, egoistic self, with all its labels and habits, you are very attached to it. And why wouldn’t you be? It’s all you know. To move beyond this privately concocted identity naturally feels like losing or dying. If we do not learn the art of dying and letting go early, we may miss out on the peace, contentment, and liberation of life lived in our Larger and Lasting Identity. This larger identity is that you are fully known by God, as the second reading says. Being aware who we are as beloved sons and daughters of God will help us know that if God does not reject us, hardly can we feel any hurt of rejection.
“The word of the Lord came to me, saying: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. But do you grid your loins; stand up and tell them all that I command you. Be not crushed on their account, as though I would leave you crushed before them; for it is I this day who have made you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass, against the whole land…. They will fight against you but not prevail over you for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”