Handling the Pain of Rejection

The Gospel today tells us rejection is a part of life. Jesus knows from His experience with the religious leaders of Israel being hostile, to the point of plotting to kill Him. The Lord said, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes? Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” (Mt. 21: 42-43)

Being entrusted with something also brings in corresponding responsibility. It isn’t by coincidence that one is endowed with talent, wealth, or even an abundance of earthly looks; there are reasons why God has created you to be such. You are created for a purpose and thus, thoughtful conscience requires that you also pay back to God through others this goodness. You mustn’t lay all these to waste by neglecting to serve and help those in need. Have you noticed that you become more joyful when you share your happiness with others? Take note, when you share the joy, when you make others happy like you, you’ve started to become an inspiring person. And it brings more fulfillment in the end!

Otherwise when you don’t share, you’re actually rejecting God’s graciousness. You’re choosing to be selfish in sharing what gifts you have to others who are in need. You may even cause pain and suffering when you are proud and overprotective of yourself by denying others the graces of God. Especially when the ones we ignore are family and or our friends, rejection becomes more painful and will affect them more than we can imagine.

According to fMRI studies, the same areas of the brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain. This is why rejection hurts so much (neurologically speaking). According to Psychologist Guy Winch, in our ancestral history as a hunter/gatherer, “being ostracized from our tribes was akin to a death sentence, as we were unlikely to survive for long alone.” Evolutionary psychologists think that the brain must have developed an early warning system to alert us when we sense a risk for ostracism. Since people generally craved for attention, those who experienced rejection as more painful gained an evolutionary advantage, as they were more likely to learn and correct their behavior, and more likely to remain in the community.

As human beings, we all have a fundamental need to belong, thus; Jesus must have been hurt so much after feeling the pain of rejection. In this stage of His ministry, the Lord was telling the religious leaders at that time to change their attitude towards Him. He even portrayed correctly the extent of rejection — after killing the servants, even the heir being killed in the end. It must have felt dreadful and terrifying, considering that it’s His own death that is being planned by the Scribes and the Pharisees. Yet, He is so focused and faithful to the mission entrusted to Him by God the Father. He had to endure the disconnection and found solace in prayer to soothe the emotional pain. Imagine: How much pain and sadness Jesus endured (and is constantly enduring) for us in the Cross?

We’ll all have tears, pains and sorrows. When you’re happy now because everything is alright, be conscious that things will not always be like that. There will be painful experiences that life will still bring us. There will be anxieties and uncertainties. Yet, through it all, we can choose to be happy and positive. We can be certain that our Lord — who is gracious, all-good, and comforting — will be there for us in His splendor and majesty. He’ll be there cheering and comforting us in our moments of difficulties. He’s in with the people we encounter: our loved ones, our friends, our colleagues at work, and even more in the ordinary people we meet, every single day. Did He not tell us 386 times that we shouldn’t be afraid? Our God is here with us today, as He was yesterday, tomorrow, and forever will be.

Whenever we encounter a mournful experience, it’s our turn to prove we are faithful and won’t reject Him even in the most difficult moments of our lives. Let’s pray and reach out to Christ even more.

As St. Paul assures us,

“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4: 6-7)

“I have chosen you from the world, says the Lord, to go and bear fruit that will remain.” (cf Jn. 15:16)

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