Sunday XXI in Ordinary Time
Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.
One of the worst human experiences is feeling rejected. A boy may feel the rejection of the girl he likes. A worker may feel the rejection of his coworkers. A student may feel the rejection of his group. A person with a deformity may feel rejected by society. And the heart hurts. All rejection causes suffering. And is worst when the rejection comes from a friend, or a brother, or a son. Love makes any pain bearable, and it’s true. But rejection causes pain that grows with love.
The Eucharist and the rejection of Jesus
Among all the sufferings that Jesus suffered for us, perhaps one of the strongest was the rejection of his disciples. Curiously, this happened in the context of the revelation of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is God’s closest approach to man. To the extent that man can eat God. Precisely when Christ speaks of giving us His Flesh and Blood as true food and drink, then He receives his first crucifixion. “This way of speaking is intolerable, “His disciples will say. And “since then, many of his disciples backed down and no longer wanted to walk with him.”
Disciples, that is men and women who had been fascinated at another time by the wisdom of his words and the power of his miracles. Now they turned their backs on him. Perhaps by offering his Flesh and Blood, Jesus “offered too much”, and human beings have always been afraid of too much divine love.
The rejection of Jesus today
Also today, Jesus is rejected. In fact, more often than we think. Jesus is rejected when the existence of the God that He came to reveal to us is denied; when his words and his commandments, which are “spirit and life”, are not tolerated; when the oral teaching of the Church is considered inadmissible; when the sacraments are despised or received with terrifying superficiality; when Jesus the Eucharist is abandoned in so many tabernacles; when Jesus is not recognized in a beggar.
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?”
Fortunately, not everyone rejects Jesus. Faced with the rejection of his disciples, Jesus turns to his apostles and asks them a crucial question: Do you also want to leave me? Peter’s response deserves a monument: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life, and we believe, and we know that You are the Holy One of God.” In addition to being inspired, it was a courageous response. Of those that “burn the boats.”
Peter acknowledges that Jesus is not only Someone to follow; is someone to live with. And once you decided to go with Him, you have no other destination left; “Lord, to whom shall we go?” Human rejections have an educational function. If you have ever felt rejected, perhaps you have already had to find your foothold elsewhere. Only Jesus is, in truth, “spirit and life” not only for our soul but also for our heart. Sooner or later, you will conclude that only Jesus never disappoints. For this reason, if you ever feel alone, or helpless, or rejected, there is Jesus the Eucharist, the ‘rejected’, to understand and console you.
Every mother feels deep sorrow when one of her children is rejected. Mary will have suffered terribly when Jesus was rejected by his disciples. She also suffers when we are rejected, but she is with us as every mother. May she give us the strength to endure and rejection and the wisdom to turn to Jesus, the one one who can encourage us with His “words of life”. Fr. Fidel