I was complimenting a couple of our students today on their attitudes. At such a young age, they seem to have a grasp on not taking things personal. When I was their age, I pretty much took everything personal. I was such a people-pleaser that would say or do what was necessary to try to make people like me. This type of attitude is still a part of me and I have to fight myself to not fall into a trap of being concerned what others might think.
The readings today from Genesis 44 and the Gospel of Matthew 10 bring to my mind rejection and how one handles it. The story of Joseph tells about his brothers selling him into Egyptian slavery. Joseph ends up being almost as powerful as Pharaoh. When famine struck, his brothers unknowingly had to ask him for food for his family. It’s a great story but the point is, Joseph handled his brother’s rejection by telling them…
“But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.”
And Joseph did save lives as the food he so craftily stored up during plentiful times was enough to feed all during the lean times. He ended up not holding a grudge against such an evil act of his brothers. It’s a positive lesson to have mercy and forgive.
The Gospel is a bit different. Remember, Jesus is sending his 12 disciples to proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. They were to go out with hardly any provisions and have to depend on the generosity of those they were proclaiming the message of the Kingdom. They were to look for worthy people and were told by Jesus…
“As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it”
But what happens if they are rejected by the people? We know our God is loving, forgiving and merciful. What do you think He told them?
“if not, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”
I understand this to mean if we do not want to listen to God through the people He sends to help us to know His will, then God will deal with us in His time. It also means that we cannot be afraid of rejection if we are asked to speak God’s truth in love to whomever God calls us to share it with.
Let us ask for God’s grace to guide us through the storms and fears of rejection. We can stand tall and love our neighbors in truth. God tells us 365 times in some form in scripture to not be afraid. Let us listen and act with righteousness and courage to proclaim God’s message of the Kingdom. Amen.