Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

Readings: Jer 1:4-5,17-19; Ps 71: 1-6,15-17; 1 Cor 12:31-13:13; Lk 4:21-30


Most of the time we like people who please us, who say nice things about us, and do not confront us. Even if we are wrong or are doing bad things we do not want to be confronted. We do not like people who speak plainly and who call a spade a spade! We prefer small talk and wish to maintain peace at any cost. But there are people who feel compelled to speak out, who will challenge wrong doing even if it makes them unpopular. These are the prophets of our day! Every true believer is called to be a prophet, to be the mouthpiece of God. Are we ready to stand for God? Are we ready to stand up and be counted? Let’s pray for the courage to be true to our God no matter what the cost!

They will comment anyway…

The following is a summary of the comments made about the parish priest in a typical parish:
If his homily is longer than usual, ‘He sends us to sleep.’
If it’s short ‘He hasn’t bothered.’
If he raises his voice, ‘He is shouting.’
If he speaks normally, ‘You can’t hear a thing.’
If he’s away, ‘He’s always on the road.’
If he’s at home, ‘He’s a stick-in-the-mud.’
If he’s out visiting, ‘He’s never at home.’
If he’s in the presbytery, ‘He never visits his people.’
If he talks finances, ‘He’s too fond of money.’
If he doesn’t, ‘The parish is dead.’
If he takes his time with people, ‘He wears everybody out.’
If he is brief, ‘He never listens.’
If he starts Mass on time, ‘His watch must be fast.’
If he starts a minute late, ‘He holds everybody up.’
If he is young, ‘He lacks experience.’
If he is old, ‘He ought to retire.’
And if he dies? Well, of course, ‘No one could ever take his place.’
—– Jack McArdle in ‘And that’s the Gospel Truth’

In the story for the First Reading, Jackie overcame self-rejection to become a star basketball player. All it took was a little encouragement from a coach. God encouraged a shy man named Jeremiah, who would become one of Israel’s greatest prophets. In the story for the gospel, Charlie was the class clown. He always tried to make others laugh in class, even if he got in trouble. Charlie soon found out, however, that no one took him seriously because of his reputation. Jesus had a reputation, and was rejected for it. So, Jesus traveled to an area where he was accepted.

Inspirational stories of successful and famous people…….

Below are short and quick inspirational stories of some of the most successful people that can help you know a lot about the approach required to reach success inspite of Rejection.

• Soichiro Honda’s success story: Soichiro Honda is the founder of the company Honda which is one of the well known large automotive companies. Honda’s story starts when he went for a job interview to work for the Toyota company. Honda was rejected and was told that he was not fit for the job!! The man didn’t give up and decided to create a company that would compete with Toyota and so Honda-the company was born!! If there is anything we can learn from this inspiring success story it would be to never give up.

• Stephen King’s inspirational success story: Most people know Stephen king the famous writer but few know about his life story. Stephen’s first novel was rejected almost everywhere it was submitted to the extent that he threw it in the garbage!! His wife got the story out of the garbage and insisted that he submit it again and in the end he became the Stephen king we know now!! There is a very important lesson you must come up with from this inspirational success story which is that rejections should make no sense at all if you believe in yourself.

• Thomas Edison motivational success story: Thomas’ success story is one of the stories that can motivate anyone after experiencing failure. Thomas failed about 999 times to invent the lamp before he succeed in doing it on the 1000th attempt. When people asked him how he managed to keep going even though he kept failing all the time he replied that each time it didn’t work he used to say he discovered a new way of how to not invent the lamp. Thomas Edison’s success story should make you conclude that failure should never stop you even if it occurred more than once.

• Oprah Winfrey’s success story: One of the inspirational stories that really motivated me the first time I read about it was the success story of Oprah. Oprah is one of the most popular TV icons nowadays and she is also one of the richest women on our planet but this is not how her story began. Do you know that Oprah was fired from her job and was told that she was not fit for TV earlier in her life?

• Bill Gates’ success story: Bill Gates the founder of Microsoft is one of the most inspirational business leaders living today but do you know that his idea of creating a computer that had a graphical interface and a mouse was rejected when he first submitted it to another company? Some people even say that the papers of the project were thrown in his face!! Now he is “Bill Gates”!!

Certainly these success stories are not told for the sake of entertainment but they are told in order to inspire, motivate and encourage people to succeed in work, business or life.

The most precious lessons you should come up with from these inspirational success stories are:

1. Rejection should never stop you.
2. Failure is not a problem at all.
3. People who reject you know nothing.
4. Believing in yourself is the key to success in life.

A boy once proposed to a girl. She rejected. He was not sad. His friends asked him why he didnt feel sad.
Boy: Why should I be sad? I have lost someone who didn’t love me. But she has lost someone who loved her.”

In the First Reading of today, we come across Jeremiah, an insecure young man whom the Lord has appointed him as a prophet to Israel. In this reading, the Lord assures Jeremiah that he has always known him and loved him, even before he was born. In effect, the Lord says to Jeremiah, “You can do this. I will be with you all the way. I will make you strong.” However, the people did not listen to Jeremiah. But, Jeremiah never gave up, because he knew the Lord was with him.

The Second Reading is one of the most famous passages from the New Testament. It is read at weddings and also at funerals. It is written on plaques and wall hangings. It is even embroidered on pillows! Why do you think so many people appreciate this passage on love? Read the passage quietly to yourself or listen to it as it is read slowly one more time. When you read or hear a verse or a line that means something to you, write it down. Then gather with your prayer group and compare your choices. Try to explain why you wrote down the passage that you did.

In today’s Gospel reading, the people do not listen to Jesus. They did not really believe he was the Messiah, because they had known him all their lives. To them, Jesus was “Joseph’s son” and nothing more. But Jesus never gave up, either. Jesus knew that his Father was with him always.

The incident related in today’s Gospel story is a precious moment of grace for the people of Nazareth, one that we too experience from time to time – Jesus invites them and us to stop hiding behind their false identity and come to the truth of themselves.

We all need to feel special; the problem is how we go about fulfilling that need. The easy – but false – way is to take the short cut of finding our “specialness” in belonging to a group that considers itself superior to others. We find our “specialness” in our sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality, or from the fact that we are married, our “old boys” or “old girls” of some school, university graduates, our job, or own our homes.

Today’s reading reminds us that the same happens with religious groups. The people of Nazareth, like the Jews in general, or like members of churches, or of groups within them such as priests, religious and leaders of prayer groups, look on themselves as “the chosen people”.

The basic fault in all these situations is to forget that being part of a group says nothing about our personal worth. If we settle for the group-identity we become complacent and stop facing the truth about ourselves.

The moment of grace comes when someone from our group sees through the cover up, starts mixing with outsiders, and declares that some of them are every bit as good as we are, perhaps even better. A good Catholic boy marries a girl from a different faith, and comes back to say that his in-laws are just as holy as members of his church. One of our own children, perhaps in a moment of anger, shows up our double standards and compares us unfavourably with our neighbours.

We think of those who refuse to play the racial game in politics, business or sport, and criticise members of their own religious or ethnic group. At the world level, Pope John Paul asks forgiveness for the sins of the church, Gandhi refers to the dalits as God’s special children, Nelson Mandela forgives the former rulers of South Africa.

Our spontaneous reaction may be to be angry with those who break ranks. We brand them “traitors.” Our anger is understandable. We are suddenly faced with the reality that we are not “a master race”, “born to rule”, “chosen people”; we must take our place alongside people that we considered inferior, admit our failings, work hard for success. In the church, all of us – priests, religious, laity – realise that we must “work for our salvation with fear and trembling”.

I read the book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do”, the Author Amy Morin wrote beautifully how to deal with REJECTION. Here below are some extracts…

1. They Acknowledge Their Emotions

Rather than suppress, ignore, or deny the pain, mentally strong people acknowledge their emotions. They admit when they’re embarrassed, sad, disappointed, or discouraged. They have confidence in their ability to deal with uncomfortable emotions head-on, which is essential to coping with their discomfort in a healthy manner.

Whether you’ve been stood up by a date or turned down for a promotion, rejection stings. Trying to minimize the pain by convincing yourself–or someone else–it was “no big deal” will only prolong your pain. The best way to deal with uncomfortable emotions is to face them head-on.

2. They View Rejection as Evidence They’re Pushing the Limits

Mentally strong people know that rejection serves as proof that they’re living life to the fullest. They expect to be rejected sometimes, and they’re not afraid to go for it, even when they suspect it may be a long shot.

If you never get rejected, you may be living too far inside your comfort zone. You can’t be sure you’re pushing yourself to your limits until you get turned down every now and then. When you get rejected for a project, passed up for a job, or turned down by a friend, you’ll know you’re putting yourself out there.

3. They Treat Themselves With Compassion

Rather than think, “You’re so stupid for thinking you could do that,” mentally strong people treat themselves with compassion. They respond to negative self-talk with a kinder, more affirming message.

Whether you got dumped by your long-term love or blindsided by a recent firing, beating yourself up will only keep you down. Speak to yourself like a trusted friend, priest or your parents. Drown out your harsh inner critic by repeating helpful mantras that will keep you mentally strong.

4. They Refuse to Let Rejection Define Them

Mentally strong people don’t make sweeping generalizations when they’re rejected. If one company turns them down for a job, they don’t declare themselves incompetent. Or, if they get rejected by a single love interest, they don’t conclude they’re unlovable. They keep rejection in proper perspective.

One person’s opinion, or one single incident, should never define who you are. Don’t let your self-worth depend upon other people’s opinions of you. Just because someone else thinks something about you, doesn’t mean it’s true.

5. They Learn From Rejection

Mentally strong people ask themselves, “What did I gain from this?” so they can learn from rejection. Rather than simply tolerate the pain, they turn it into an opportunity for self-growth. With each rejection, they grow stronger and become better.

Whether you learn about areas in your life that need improvement, or you simply recognize that being turned down isn’t awful as you imagined, rejection can be a good teacher. Use rejection as an opportunity to move forward with more wisdom.

6. They pray and forgive

Mentally strong people believe in the power of Prayer and forgiveness. It is a powerful weapon to overcome anything harsh done to oneself by others. They take Jesus as a role model to put their life back on track. Prayer and forgiveness improves your inner power and gives you the right attitude, hope and energy to rise up like a giant not to crush other, not to prove a point over others but to be a help and source of inspiration to others.

Fr. Gaspar Fernandes, OFM Cap.

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