Being forgotten, snubbed, ridiculed and derided, pushed aside and discarded as an object, being the butt of a sarcastic joke, treated as a buffoon, forced into oblivion, treated as if valueless—all of the above have one thing in common: rejection!
Strange and shocking as it may seem, the Son of the Eternal Father, the Wisdom of God, the Logos/Word through whom the whole world was created, the Master and Teacher of the world, Jesus Himself, suffered constant, painful and unthinkable rejections. Rejected not once or twice, but during the whole course of His life, Jesus most willingly submitted to the will of His heavenly Father: “Father, If it be possible, let this cup pass me by; however, not my will by your will be done.”
A most fruitful and efficacious meditation/contemplation especially in the context of Holy Week, would be to call to mind, pray over and plumb the depths of the REJECTIONS of Jesus. The Imitation of Christ, Thomas Kempis, highlights the fact the entirety of the Life of Christ, from cross to tomb was a cross. A clear manifestation of the cross is the reality of REJECTIONS! Let us prayerfully contemplate Our Lord’s rejections.
Before delving into Jesus’ rejections, it must be emphasized the fact that Jesus willingly suffered rejections to submit to the will of His Heavenly Father, but also because of His great love for you and me! Paradoxically stated, Jesus willingly underwent constant rejection so that we could be received by Him now and for all eternity! How great is the love of Jesus even in His humiliating rejections for love of you and me.
Furthermore, when we suffer rejections, and this is part and parcel of life, we can unite our rejections to Jesus and these painful situations can be a source of infinite growth in holiness! Indeed Jesus was wounded for our sakes and by His wounds we are healed.
1. BETHLEHEM. St. Joseph travelled with his pregnant wife Mary to Bethlehem, the city of David. Upon arriving, the entire Holy Family was rejected. Joseph knocked at the door and there was no room for Joseph, or Mary, or Jesus in the Inn. (Jn. 1:11) In a certain sense we can even state that Jesus experienced the pain of the aborted babies. Because in this rejection Jesus was not yet born, but in the womb of Mary and indeed He was rejected! May the rejected unborn Jesus convert us from the evil of rejecting unborn babies through abortions!!!
2. PROPHECY OF SIMEON. One of the seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Prophecy of Simeon. As the elderly prophet holds the Child Jesus in his arms he utters a prophecy of Mary’s future sufferings, but also the future rejection of Jesus, with these words: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.(Lk. 2: 34-35) This sign of contradiction would be the contradiction of the cross bars on Calvary.
3. FLIGHT INTO EGYPT.(Mt. 2:13-18) Moved by the ugly spirit of envy, insecurity, and a desire to dominate and rule, King Herod sets out on a rampage to kill all of the innocent male-children two years and younger. His intention was not only to reject Jesus, worse yet, to slaughter him. Imagine the fear and terror that must have invaded the heart of Mary as well as St. Joseph as they flee to a foreign country to save the life of their innocent Child. In all of these rejections Jesus purposely submits to them to accomplish the will of His heavenly Father, but also for our sanctification and salvation. How grateful we should be for Our Lords’ love for us even in His bitter rejections!
4. FIRST PREACHINGS.(Lk. 4:16-30) Jesus returns to His home town after His Baptism and temptations and preaches. He levels His message against them and their hardness of heart. Cut to the depths of their proud and resistant hearts, they purposely force Jesus out of the synagogue and lead Him to the brow of the hill with the intention to throw Him headlong and end with Him. Jesus for His part walked through their midst because His hour had not yet come! How often in the lives of God’s friends, the saints, they have received bitter treatment and rejection for the simple reason that they preached the truth!
5. JEWISH HIGH PRIESTS.(Mt 27:41-42) Given that Jesus had no formal training as did many of the Scribes and Pharisees, given that Jesus came from an unimportant place called “Nazareth”, given that Jesus’ parents were simple people, his father a mere-carpenter, several of the High priests took offense and were scandalized by Jesus. This young man, son of a carpenter, had developed a huge following; many people loved Him and especially the poor and rejected of society and His preaching were so inspiring that multitudes would follow Him. Filled with envy, that led to anger and even fury, their only solution was to reject Jesus and to have Jesus put to death.
6. HIS FRIENDS. (Mt. 26:31-35) Jesus chose a small band of followers called the Apostles. He chose them to be His followers, collaborators, but especially His dear friends. “I call you friends…” As Scripture points out they failed Him. This failure on their part can be put in the category of rejection. At the Last Supper Jesus said that the Shepherd would be struck and the sheep scattered and they would all leave Him alone, abandon Him. They all protested as to their faithfulness. Upon Jesus’ arrest they fled. Jesus knew it and prophesied it, but still this must have pained the Heart of Jesus.
7. PETER’S TRIPLE DENIAL. (Mt.26: 69-75) Peter professes his faithfulness, but Jesus makes the prophecy that before the cock crows Peter would deny Him three times. After Jesus arrest, Peter drags his feet; warms himself by the fire and three times, the future Prince of the Apostles denies that he even knows Jesus. This was a rejection on the part of Jesus’ good friend Peter. Of course later one Peter would reaffirm his love for Jesus three times. Nonetheless, this does not negate the fact that Peter did deny Jesus three times, a form of rejection. Indeed the rejection on the part of loved ones can be the most piercing and painful.
8. JUDAS BETRAYS JESUS. (Mt. 26: 20-25) Another painful rejection was on the part of Judas Iscariot. Jesus chose Judas not to be a traitor, but to be an Apostle and friend. Moved by greed and having fallen out of love for Jesus, Judas willingly decides to reject Jesus for thirty pieces of silver—the price that was paid to purchase a slave in the times of Jesus.
9. PONTIUS PILATE. (Mt. 27:15-26) We pray in the Creed at every Sunday Mass that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. Pilate indeed was a coward as well as a “people-pleaser” rather than a “God-pleaser”. His wife Claudia had a dream in which God revealed to her that Jesus was indeed innocent. Even with this forewarning from God through his wife, Pontius Pilate rejected Jesus and sentenced Jesus to death by means of the cruelest, and most humiliating means of the crucifixion.
10. GOD THE FATHER.(Mt. 27:46) One of the most mysterious passages in all of Sacred Scripture is one of the seven last words that Jesus uttered as He hung on the cross: “My God, My God, why have your forsaken me.” Jesus was quoting from Psalm 21. How could it be that Jesus felt as if He were even abandoned by His loving Father??? How curious! How mysterious! How painful! How extraordinary! The Son of God willingly experienced the distance of His loving Father in the bitter moments of His passion, shortly before Jesus will breathe forth His spirit into the hands of His loving Father!
When all is said and done, it would be remiss on our part if we did not make a modern application to the present rejections of Our Lord and savior Christ! Many are the definitions that we could offer for what sin indeed is. However, related to our present topic, a very pertinent and apropos definition of sin could be the following: “Sin is rejecting the love of the Heart of the Father for us.” This rejection can be partial or total. Partial rejection would be venial sin; total rejection would be that of mortal sin.
It might be easy to point the finger at the many people who rejected Jesus during the course of His brief Public life which lasted about three years. However, every time somebody willingly misses Mass on Sunday, commits adultery or fornication, views pornography, abuses drugs by taking or selling, and many other serious sins, the rejection of Jesus is perpetuated!
Our desire should be to repair for the many rejections of Jesus, 2000 years ago, during the course of the past 2000 years up to the present. I would humbly like to offer five simple ways that we can console the rejected and sorrowful Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
1. NO TO SIN! Let us make a firm proposal in our lives to fight against sin in our lives. Indeed by saying “No” to sin we are saying “No” to the cycle of rejections of Jesus and “yes” to His love and Friendship!
2. READING: CONSOLING THE HEART OF JESUS. Why not find some time to read and meditate the spiritual masterpiece of Father Michael Gaitley on “Consoling the Heart of Jesus”. This spiritual masterpiece and best-seller can offer you abundant food for thought and practical ways on how we can avoid rejecting Jesus, repair for those who reject Jesus and crown Jesus as the King of our hearts!
3. LOVE AND DEVOTION TO OUR LADY—MOTHER OF DIVINE MERCY! Many have been the rejections of Jesus for hundreds and even thousands of years. However, there was one person that God created who never once, not even in the smallest way ever rejected Jesus even in the slightest way: this was His Immaculate Mother Mary! Get to know Mary; cultivate devotion to Mary; love Mary; make Mary known and loved. She will always bring us to the Heart of Jesus and help us to reject Jesus less and receive and love Him all the more! Sweet Heart of Mary be my salvation!
4. HOLY HOUR OF REPARATION. Another superb practice that we can undertake to counteract the rejections of Jesus would be to make a Holy Hour of Reparation. Spend an hour before the Eucharistic Lord Jesus, and read through the following rejections in Sacred Scripture, present rejections of Jesus due to sin and even your own past rejections due to personal sin and console the Heart of Jesus. Tell Jesus how much you love Him, how much it pains your own heart to contemplate Hos many rejections. Then promise the Lord Jesus that you will try to imitate Our Lady in saying “yes” to His love always starting right now!
5. MASS AND HOLY COMMUNION. Finally, and not of least importance is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the reception of Holy Communion. By far the greatest gesture that a human person can carry out is to receive Jesus (not reject Him) in the worthy reception of Holy Communion. Holy Communion is truly and substantially the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How many Catholics today reject Jesus in the context of Mass and Holy Communion! Many Catholics no longer attend Holy Mass, thereby rejecting Him. Many have changed religions, thereby rejecting Him. Others attend Holy Mass but neither receive Him nor even pay attention to what is transpiring in Holy Mass—this is rejecting Jesus. Worse yet, there are many Catholics who approach the Eucharistic Lord and receive Jesus in the state of mortal sin and as such they are rejecting Jesus and crucifying Him again. For this reason we must form and army of zealous and ardent lovers of the Mass and the Eucharistic Lord to receive Him with a burning love, a burning passion, a lively faith and limitless confidence. This indeed will console the rejected Heart of Jesus beyond the mind can possibly comprehend. Let us all receive Jesus with love starring right now so that Jesus will receive us into Heaven for all eternity!