In today’s 2nd Reading, St. Paul tells us, If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!
We are all called to share the Gospel with those around us, in order to lead people into a relationship with the Lord. But the reality is that our message of Christ’s love will not always be accepted. So what should we do when our attempts to share the Gospel are rejected?
Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ reflected on this very question recently on St. Joseph’s Workshop. He said:
“So you start sharing the Good News with people, and what happens? It’s amazing, isn’t it, how quickly people will become antagonistic towards us, judgemental, dismissive. Have you ever started talking about Jesus and somebody rolls their eyes at you? To the point where it’s clear they’re not even listening, it’s clear they’re not even open to hearing you.
And all of a sudden your own ego is deflated. Or maybe your ego is fine, but your own hope and desire for them to listen is punctured and deflating.
We’ve all been in situations like that, I think. If you’re striving to be a disciple of Jesus, then you’ve encountered these different trials and challenges. In spite of feeling like you have the message and the answer for somebody else’s problem, it’s rejected. It’s not accepted.
Well, you’re in good company. And that’s what I want you to realize when that happens in your life. You’re in good company because the same thing happened to Jesus.
We read in Mark chapter 6 that He went to His own town, His native place with His disciples and He started preaching and proclaiming the Good News in the synagogue. He taught the people about His Father, and about the New Law, and about what God desired of them.
And they are astonished. They can’t believe it. And they’re also wondering where He got all this stuff. Doesn’t He come from humble origins? They knew Joseph, his father, the carpenter. I mean, Joe’s been a buddy of theirs for a long time, and Joe’s not doing anything out of the ordinary. And they knew His mother Mary, and she seemed to live a humble, hidden lifestyle. How could their son be bringing them something? Where did He get all this? And they took offense at Him.
They were led to this awareness that this was something different and amazing, but they looked at the messenger and they took offense.
When we are like Jesus then we can expect that people will wonder if we’re all that. People will stop looking at the message and start looking at the messenger. The sad part of that is that you and I are sinful messengers, unlike Jesus. Jesus, without sin, was still a point of offense for those around Him. For you and I, there is greater reason why people might not accept a message coming from us.
I’m reflecting on this because that shouldn’t keep us from proclaiming the Good News. Maybe people know who you are. Maybe people have seen your sinful past. Maybe people know how you acted in high school and so they think, ‘Oh, now this person has become all religious on me.’ And maybe they’ll even roll their eyes at you.
We wonder what the point is of sharing the Gospel if they’re not going to accept it. And I think this is an encouraging passage, at least for me. To realize that people don’t always accept the messenger. And even the message might be astonishing, and people will look at say, ‘Wow, this is good stuff. But how could this come from this person?’
Don’t worry about it. Don’t return that feeling of taking offense, of being offended. But instead realize that your goal is not to be recognized as the greatest of messengers. The point of your life is not to receive honor from other people, but instead to continue to share the Good News.
Jesus, among those poor people of His own town, couldn’t do many great works because they lacked a lot of faith. Maybe that’s true of people in our lives. We’re not there to judge them for it, we’re there to try to increase their faith. We’re there to try to share the Good News with them and to help them in their walk with Christ. If sometimes they’re not receptive to it, let’s keep trying and keep striving to share the Good News.”
Listen to the full reflection below:
St. Joseph’s Workshop with Father Matthew Spencer airs weekdays at 7:00 p.m. Eastern/4:00 p.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio®.