Sacred Heart

Catholic Church

Imlay City, Michigan  Tel: (810) 724-1135

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Homily
Fr. Paul Ward

Sat. & Sun., April 18 & 19
3rd Sunday of Easter, Cycle B
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
 

God and Man, Rejection and Acceptance

 

1.    

   Today I wish to explore the realities of rejection and acceptance, especially as they affect the mutual relationship between God and man. The reason for doing so springs from today’s readings, and will become more evident as I proceed.

   We all know what acceptance is, and what rejection is. Acceptance [
acogimiento] is to receive well, to admit into friendship, into society with one or more other persons. Rejection [rechazo] is to spurn [desdeñar] another person, to exclude them, to refuse to enter in relationship with that other person. Acceptance contributes great joy in our human relationships, and rejection takes away that joy filling it with bitter sorrow.

   While acceptance can build a person up, give him optimism, inspire him to reach for goals, open his heart to those around him and to enjoy peace, rejection can tear a person down, fill him with pessimism, dissuade him from aiming high, close his heart to others and to experience disturbance. Dealing with acceptance usually doesn’t require a whole lot of effort; but dealing with rejection invites us to resist its destructive effects, and that may require a superhuman effort.

   Rejection by others often leads people to do disordered things. One may start to think that he or she is not beautiful, unlovely, unlovable, bad and worthless. Such subtle anguish attempts to set up camp in the deepest recesses of the mind, such that a person grieves for who he or she is, and this grieving surfaces like lava exploding suddenly from a volcano, or like a tidal wave rising from unseen earthquakes in the depths. Disordered actions follow, and the poor soul has no idea why he or she is acting the way he is. Such actions can take lesser forms such as head-banging, hand-biting, and excessive self-rubbing and scratching; but then can escalate to self-mutilation, bulimia, anorexia, cutting. We have all seen or heard of people tattooing their entire bodies, or getting strange or huge amounts of piercings beyond the more normal ear decorations for women. Some people respond to this anguish and grief not only in these behavioral ways, but simply by becoming sick, even chronically so. Not that any of these things are necessarily ways of pursuing attention – perhaps in one case or another it might be that – but certainly the person is dealing with pain. These ways of dealing with pain may arise from other reasons besides rejection, but here I’m focusing on a powerful and common source, that of rejection.

   This is important for us human beings, and especially Christians, for the following reason. You see, we are guilty, and we have rejected God; but he has not rejected us. Too easily we skip over this truth. In our first reading, St. Peter reproaches us severely for crucifying the Lord, which we have all done, shamelessly and inexcusably, by our many sins. If that’s where the Gospel narrations ended, ours would be a religion of despair. We’d summarize our faith, “God came to earth, and we tortured and killed him.” But the narration does not end there. For we see in the Gospel, that Jesus came back to those who rejected him. He loved those who abandoned and betrayed him. He came not to punish, he came to reconcile. He triumphed over our rejection. This is why St. Paul teaches “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is vain and so is your faith vain” (1 Cor 15:14). But he has truly risen in the flesh, and in doing so, he has changed everything.

   The truth is that God does not reject the sinner, but rather it is the sinner that rejects God. More still, God responds to rejection not with rejection, but with acceptance. He does not choose the path of destruction, but the path of construction. He answers to hate with love, to curses with blessings, to sin with forgiveness. When Christ rose from the dead, he replaced evil with good, death with life, alienation with reconciliation. The Lord did what St. Paul commands us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21). When the Lord came forth from the tomb, we might have feared that he came to avenge himself upon us for our evil against him, but we discovered that he came not to reject us, but to accept us.

   Every human person is accepted by God. It is the sinner who is doing the rejecting, and creating a wall between himself and the Lord. The sinner can falsely play the victim, accusing God of rejecting him, but it is never true. God accepts man, but not his sins, and asks only for his repentance. Jesus the Lord also teaches us to accept one another, but, in imitation of him, we must be careful not to make the mistake of accepting our neighbor’s evil deeds without encouraging him wisely to repentance. May our discovery of the love of Christ for us, then, this Easter, inspire us to renounce our sinful habits, and to help others to do the same while we accept them with the charity which God pours forth into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5).

   Mary, the mother of Jesus, has also accepted us as her adopted children. May we count on her affection and intercession always. Amen.


 

 

 

  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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