Detailed homily for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: COPING WITH REJECTION
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
Homily for Sunday July 4 2021
R1 – Ez. 2:2-5
RESP PS – Ps 123
R2 – 2Cor 12:7-10
GOSPEL – Mark 6:1-6
The name, Albert Einstein is quite synonymous with genius. He was a theoretical physicist widely, regarded as the most important scientist of the 20th century, popularly known for his theory of relativity. In 1921, he received the Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect in 1905 and “for his services to Theoretical Physics.” Most people thought he was born a genius. Never! He was a man, who from childhood was rejected, discouraged, let-down and demoralised. Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think him mentally handicapped, slow, and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. In 1905, the University of Bern flunked and rejected a Ph.D. dissertation because it was fanciful and irrelevant. The young Ph.D. student who received the bad news was Albert Einstein. He was never born a genius as many thought, he only learned how to battle, struggle and cope with rejections and frustrations.
Beloved in Christ, the thrust of this Sunday’s Liturgy, is a call on all believers to learn how to battle and cope with the inevitability of rejections which we face in our day to day lives; while adopting the prophetic courage and optimism of our master and Saviour, Jesus Christ, amidst rejections and throw backs.
Very often, one faces some heartbreaking, demoralising and demeaning rejections from friends, families, or childhood companions and schoolmates, who have never believed in you and can never believe in you or who have already placed some limitations on you from attaining certain heights and positions of prominence in the society, due to your family backgrounds, intellectual or moral status; just like Jesus, in the Gospel reading, whose kinsmen vehemently opposed his ministry and equally failed to listen to and accept the words of grace, love, and encouragement that he offers to them; because they were so familiar with him that they were unable to see him as God’s appointed instrument of salvation, the agents of God’s healing and saving grace. They also felt that this “son of the carpenter” could not be the promised Messiah who would come from Bethlehem as a descendant of David’s royal family.
The first reading, taken from the book of the prophet Ezekiel, tells us about his call from God to be a prophet. Yahweh warns Ezekiel that he is being sent to obstinate and rebellious Israelites in exile in Babylon. Hence, as God’s prophet, he will have to face rejection and persecution for giving God’s message.
In the second reading, St. Paul gives us the same warning from his own experience, that not only prophets, but apostles and missionaries will encounter hardships and rejection in their preaching mission.
*JESUS’ REJECTION AND THE CONSEQUENT RISE TO PROMINENCE*
The Latin reiectionem, which is the nominative of reiectio, translates rejection, as, “an act of throwing back.” The Gospel reading of today’s liturgy narrates Jesus’ ugly experience of throw backs (rejection), that fueled his prophetic courage and rise to prominence. Hitherto, there is an adverse reactions from Jesus’ kinsmen after a show of great wisdom and extraordinariness in the synagogue as: “Where did this man get all this? Such negative agitation is an indication that even at one’s possible best, no one garners 100 percent recognition and acknowledgement, no matter the feat attained. They knew him only as a carpenter from a poor family, with no formal training in Mosaic Law. Certainly, they thought Jesus had gone far beyond the place of a humble carpenter. Jesus’ neighbors did not expect this “carpenter’s son,” to be skilled in interpreting the Scriptures. They also could not understand how a mere carpenter could be their political Messiah who would liberate them from Roman rule and re-establish the Davidic kingdom of power and glory. His kinsmen also objected that Jesus had no distinguished lineage, identifying Jesus as “the son of Mary” (v. 3) rather than with the traditional title, “son of Joseph” (“Bar Joseph”) title. Such a reference could be seen as an insult, because men in that culture were identified by who their fathers were (John 1:45). Jesus responded: “No prophet is accepted in his native place.” This is an indication that those who accept the call of God and seek to follow Him will face indifference, hostility, contempt, scorn, weakness, hardship, persecution, insults and rejection. The success of such hard situations surely pave way for one’s prominence, because he did not relent as many do.
(1) *REJECTION IS INEVITABLE*
Those who reject you are most probably, those who have sworn to kill your dreams, demoralise your spirit and are ready to maime and act as destiny destroyers. The fact of life is that, back-throwers or those who reject you are inevitable in life. You cannot avoid them. They are everywhere, no matter the profession or vocation. Only strive never to allow them discourage or set you back.
Alot of biblical figures, especially, in the Old Testament were hesitant towards their vocation for fear of rejection or failure.
• Joseph’s dreams caused his brothers anger and envy. He faced rejections on his road to stardom.
•Job’s faithfulness to God lured him to suffer false accusations and rejections from family and friends
• Moses faced alot of heartbreaking rejections from the people who murmured against him.
•Jeremiah was threatened with death several times, thrown into a dry cistern, imprisoned, dragged off to exile in Egypt, and, perhaps most painful of all, was forced to watch the destruction of Jerusalem, because its inhabitants would not listen to his message.
At least twice in his lifetime, the prophet Elijah gave the warning
of God to King Ahab concerning the king’s promotion of idolatry. As a result, Elijah was forced to flee into the wilderness where he suffered great privation (I Kgs 16: 29- 17: 3; I Kgs 18: 16 – 19: 4).
(2) *NEVER ALLOW OVER FAMILIARITY TO BREED CONTEMPT*
Jesus’ kinsmen refused to accept him, because of over familiarity. They knew him, son of the carpenter (Bar Joseph). Sometimes, over closeness and familiarity with the sacred and ministers of God in our faith-based life, if not properly guided could facilitate loss of the sense of sacredness, thereby breeding contempt. Whereby, we begin to see the church as a social and political organisation, where one can perpetuate evil and promote all forms of atrocities in the house of God. It happened to Saul, he lost respect for God and neglected the instructions from the priest. He ended up in shame. Beware! (1Sam 16:14).
(3) *NO REJECTIONS NO GROWTH*
The greatest of all motivators and propellers to one’s destiny are those who reject, throw us back or deny us favours and opportunities.
We might have experienced the pain of rejection caused by hurts, wounds, betrayal, divorce, abandonment, violated trust, trauma, neglect, or abuse in its various forms. Never get discouraged or demoralised.
Whenever you remember them, you get more reason and motivated to work harder so as to prove them wrong and shame the devil. One needs undaunting courage and consistency.
The annals of human history are replete with case after case of good people being rejected by those who knew them best.
• Beethoven, for example, who has the best musical composition in human history so far, had a rather awkward playing style and preferred to work at his own compositions rather than play the compositions of the classical artists of his day. Disapproving of his technique, his teacher called him hopeless as a composer.
•Bishop Fulton Sheen, the great Preacher, was told by his college debate coach, “You are absolutely the worst speaker I ever heard
•Thomas Edison, who invented the electric bulb was once told by his teacher that he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Work was no better, as he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Even as an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. Of course, all those unsuccessful attempts finally resulted in the design that worked.
•Isaac Newton was the greatest English mathematician of his generation. His work on optics and gravitation made him one of the greatest scientists the world has even known. Many thought that Isaac was born a genius, but he wasn’t! When he was young, he did very poorly in grade school, so poorly that his teachers were clueless as to how to improve his grades. When he was put in charge of running the family farm, he failed miserably, so poorly in fact that an uncle took charge and sent him off to Cambridge where he finally blossomed into the scholar we know today.
•Likewise, the evolution wizard, Charles Darwin, he gave up on having a medical career and was often chastised by his father for being lazy and too dreamy. Darwin himself wrote, “I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect.”
Beloved, when people reject you or throw back at you, do not reject yourself. You are like a fruitful tree that is being thrown stones. Never get discouraged. Jesus was called a carpenter’s son. The Greek interlineer bible renders it as “tekton,” from where the word, ‘technology’ originated; meaning one who can fix everything. They indirectly gave him approval. However, undeterred, he blossomed. Never get discouraged, be consistent and courageous in doing the right thing, the sky will be your starting point.
MAY THE GRACE AND LOVE OF GOD ENFOLD US TO REMAIN FOCUSED AMIDST THE STORMS, REJECTIONS AND FRUSTRATIONS OF LIFE. AMEN.
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
*FR GERALD MUOKA*