If we remember anything from Mass today, it is probably the Gospel, as today is commonly known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” We probably heard homilies on this passage from John where Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd who “lays down his life for his sheep.”
As I sat at Mass this morning, it would have been easy for me to pass over the other readings and focus on the Gospel, but the homily I heard tied in the concept of rejection from the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, which references the Psalm for the day. Jesus is the “stone rejected by the builders” that has become the “cornerstone.” The Passion of our Lord which we recently celebrated was His greatest rejection, and His becoming the “cornerstone” is what we celebrate this whole season of Easter.
How often are we rejected? In each chapter of our lives we face some sort of rejection. We experience rejections among our friends and family, school, work, and in so many places. Many of our fears come from these experiences, whether we are mindful of them or not.
The very fact that Jesus was rejected – and that His exultation came, not just despite but, because of His acceptance and endurance of His rejection – gives us great hope. We come to believe that it is through our experiences of rejection that we learn to belong to God rather than anything else where we might experience rejection.
But often it is not other people that reject us, it is ourselves that do the rejecting. We can find it hard to accept ourselves the way we are, with our wounds, our imperfections, our current circumstances. We fail to let this Good Shepherd lay down His life for us because we are so afraid of rejection. We deny ourselves the possibility of being raised up with Jesus as the cornerstone with those shameful parts of us we are rejecting in ourselves.
The Lord put on my heart today that it is these very places that we reject that He comes to redeem, glorify, and make the cornerstones in our lives. If we have the courage not to reject ourselves, we can then embrace the Love of the Good Shepherd without reservation. He does not say that He has come to lay down His life for His sheep, except those with this problem or that problem. No! He travels every corner of the world to bring each soul to His Heart that loves us too much to reject us as we often reject ourselves.
What are those “stones” that we reject in ourselves? How does God want to redeem them and exalt them as cornerstones?
I pray that all of us reflect on this profound truth, that Christ who has come to save us and bring us into His Flock has a Heart so tender and loving that will never reject those who come to Him.