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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

This week's Reflection from Fr. Bob Warren Wipe the Dust Off your Feet

Franciscan Friars
Franciscan Friars
Wipe the Dust Off Your Feet
(Luke 10:1-9)
In the first reading, Isaiah tells us in graphic language what Jerusalem meant to the Jews. It was the center of worship, the center of their life. He gives us comforting words about the city. He compares her to a nursing mother. He says prosperity will spread over her like a river. And yes, when Isaiah is writing all this, he is looking at a city in ruins. The Babylonians had destroyed it. Isaiah had warned the people, but they did not listen to him. They rejected him. Isaiah could have said, "I told you so." No, he does not let rejection or disaster overcome him. He looks forward to a bright future.
I do not think anyone responds to rejection very well. Be it a ten-year-old boy who gets a crush on the pretty girl who sits in front of him only to be ignored. Or the college graduate who keeps being turned down for a job. "We are looking for someone with more experience," says the personnel manager. A fifty-year old person with plenty of experience applies for a job and is turned down. "We are looking for someone younger," he is told. Rejection. We have all faced it. Do you remember the sting, the anger, the embarrassment of not being chosen for the team? Perhaps, feeling the temptation to quit?
Earlier in the gospel, Jesus had asked three people to follow Him in discipleship, just as He called Peter and the other apostles. But each rejected Him, with polite excuses. Three out of three rejections for Jesus. Can you imagine anyone turning Jesus down? How it must have stung. How did Jesus respond? We read now in the gospel, first, He did not give up. He redoubled His efforts to reach out to the world. He sent out seventy-two disciples. The temptation when one is rejected is to focus on the rejection and overlook the many moments of acceptance. Jesus did not allow what He had lost to erase His view of what He still had.
A married couple told me of their experience after the death of their twelve-year-old daughter. They were paralyzed by their loss. Months after her death, the husband and wife were seated at the kitchen table. The husband could only stare at the empty chair at the table where his daughter used to sit. He became overwhelmed with loss. Finally, the silence was broken by the sobbing voice of their son. "I'm still here. Remember me? I'm still here." The man said that was the moment when his grief began to turn. He had lost much, but he also had much. From that moment on, both he and his wife tried to focus on the chairs that were filled.
Jesus was never naïve. He knew that all of us at some time would experience rejection, and He would tell us how to deal with it. Wipe the dust of rejection off your feet, brush it off. Too often we drag the accumulated residue of our rejections, losses and defeats, like one's over-stuffed suitcase. Lighten up, drop the excess baggage of old losses, old failure. Do not let the scar tissue of these wounds harden your spirit and prevent you from moving on.
Jesus suffered the ultimate rejection on the Cross. When He looked down from the Cross, He did not see many supporters. Peter denied Him, Judas betrayed Him and all of the others, except John, took off. His response to the rejection... not a curse, but "Father forgive them." He did not give up on them. And the very ones who rejected Him went on to conquer the world in His name, and all of them died for Him.
Christ did not give up on them, and He never, never gives up on us.
Fr. Robert Warren
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Robert Warren Signature
Fr. Robert Warren, S.A.
Spiritual Director
Franciscan Friars
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