Each of us is wired to be accepted, which is why one of our greatest fears is the fear of rejection. This desire to be accepted is why a little baby screams when he is separated from his parents and why a child is so miserable when other children don’t want to play with him. The fear of rejection leads older children to bully others, believing the lie that they can strong arm people into accepting them and it leads adults to make stupid choices just to fit in. Yet for as hard as we try to be accepted by those around us, there is ultimately no defense against worldly rejection. There is no doubt that the pain of rejection is horrific and since we have no defense against it, we often let this fear of rejection dictate how we live our lives.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us away from that fear of rejection by reminding us that even if the world rejects us like they did to Him, so long as we live in communion with Him, we will always be accepted and we will have no reason to fear rejection. For “when a soul loves God sincerely, it ought not to fear anything.” If we truly believe that God sent His only Son into the world to reestablish a relationship with us even after we rejected Him, we have no reason to fear rejection. But since “man is a relational being and if his first fundamental relationship is disturbed – his relationship with God- then nothing else can be truly in order.”
You see at our baptism we were grafted onto the Body of Christ and we stay connected to the vine of Christ so long as we don’t cut ourselves off through mortal sin. If I am grafted onto Christ and you are grafted onto Christ then we share a unity with each other, that no one but ourselves can take from us. It is true then that “union with God does not distance us from the world, but gives us the strength to remain really in the world, to do what must be done in the world.” This is the beauty of the Church; whose purpose is to be the Body of Christ in the midst of the world. It is all of us united, seeking to accomplish what Christ wants us to accomplish in the world.
My friends, all we have to do is look at the crucifix to see that Jesus knows firsthand the pain of rejection better than any of us. “The cross of Christ is not a theory, but a dreadful ordeal and a sign of love.” In fact, one of the reasons, we as Catholics, hang crucifixes and not empty crosses is to remind ourselves that the cross was loaded with rejection. The crucifix presents us with a reminder of God nailed to a tree because we rejected Him who came only to love. Yet in God’s mysterious providence this rejected love has opened the gates for us to be free from the fear of rejection by allowing us to live in communion with God and one another if only we are open to it. “Love casts our fear,” so in coming to love God with our whole being and with all of our strength fear leaves us because “fear in general, is a shrinking of the soul faced by great danger,” and when we know and love Jesus, we recognize our soul is never in danger.
Perhaps we can’t keep the world from rejecting us, but Christ has given us the gift of living freedom from the fear of rejection by inviting us to live in union with Him. When you are rejected, look at the crucifix and know that He understands what it means to be rejected, after all He has experienced what you are experiencing. When you sense the fear of rejection creeping into your life, why not spend some time in prayer with Him who has conquered it for you? He who faced rejection so that we could be free from the fear of rejection waits right here in this church 24 hours a day for you to come and visit. Come, bring your fears and your rejection to Him and let Him remind you that with Him you are never alone. Jesus knows rejection and in His infinite love gives us His power to overcome rejectio n and to know what it is to love and be loved in return. It’s really quite simple, stay united to Him and let Him set you free.
 St. Faustina Kowalska. Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. Stockbridge:Marian Press. (2011) Pg. 137.
 Jospeh Cardinal Ratzinger. Jesus of Nazareth Part II. San Francisco: Ignatius Press,2011. Pg. 44.
 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Prayer. Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor (2013)Pg 226
 Robert Cardinal Sarah. God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith with Nicolas Dias San Francisco: Ignatius (2015) Pg. 95
 St. Faustina Kowalska. Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. Stockbridge:Marian Press. (2011) Pg. 248.
 Reginald Garrigou-LeGrange, O.P. Everlasting Life. Rockford: Tan Publishing.(1952). Pg. 138.