They said, "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?" These were the words addressed to Jesus in today’s gospel reading from the gospel of Saint Mark 6:1-6 in His native place when He was teaching in the synagogue. With these words, His own people took offense at Him and would not welcome or accept Him and the message He bore. Jesus thus, experiences criticism and rejection from His people.
God sends Prophet Ezekiel to the Israelites in today’s first reading from the Book of Prophet Ezekiel 2:2-5 saying "Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day. Hard of face and obstinate of heart," reminding him that he will not be welcomed or accepted by them but whether they heed or resist –for they are a rebellious house—they shall know that a prophet has been among them.’
St. Paul shares his experiences too in our second reading from the second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 12:7-10 and emphasizes that in his trials, persecution, or rejection, he found comfort and solace in God because God’s grace was sufficient for him, for power is made perfect in weakness through God’s grace.
My friends in Christ, it is evident that rejection, persecution and criticism are realities in the life of every disciple of Christ. So how do we deal with or handle rejection by others and persecution or criticisms from others, especially by people we thought were friends or close to us?
We can handle them by following the example of Jesus in today’s gospel reading, that is by being - Humble: Jesus was very humble in handling the situation of being rejected because it was not about Him but about proclaiming and establishing the kingdom of His Father in the world. So never make the proclamation of the gospel about yourself because you will be disappointed and demoralized when you are rejected, criticized or persecuted. But when you are humble and make it about God, you have nothing to worry about.
We can deal with or handle rejection by others and persecution or criticisms from others by being Persevering, that is, by working harder and making the continued effort of preaching and living out the gospel despite the difficulties, failures, or opposition we face. Jesus never gave up in ministering to His people after their rejection, He healed a few of them and continued to preach the gospel of His Father in the next town. So, never give up on proclaiming or living out the gospel because of the rejection and criticism you face, rather work harder and let God take control.
We can deal with or handle rejection by others and persecution or criticisms from others by standing firm in our Faith, like Jesus did in the gospel reading. Jesus stood firm in His calling and never wavered in the challenges He faced, but always strengthened His faith in His Father in those situations and that is exactly what He calls on us to do, to stand firm in our faith in God always.
My brothers and sisters, let us follow Jesus’s example in today’s gospel reading when dealing with rejection, criticisms and persecution in our lives by being humble, persevering and firm in our faith in God. Amen!