Belongingness is a very human need. We all long and desire to belong to someone or to a group. We all need to belong in order to truly live and grow within the human family and communities. Experience of acceptance and love is crucial as it provides a safe avenue to be who we are, and to become what we are meant to be. In the long run, belongingness allows us to live our true identity. If our sense of belongingness is marred or compromised, there is always a nagging feeling of incompleteness and dissatisfaction. Not only is it uncomfortable and difficult to bear, we also experience dying each time we are denied, excluded and rejected.
Yet we see in the Gospel this 14th Sunday in the Ordinary Time a Jesus who does not seem to mind experiencing the opposite of what we all hope for. Instead of an outpouring of love and acceptance, Jesus was rejected by his own people in the little village he called his own. He was rejected by the people who thought they already knew him thoroughly as they happened to know his profession, his mother, and his entire family. The ordinariness of his human origin and situation did not jive with the extra-ordinariness of his wisdom and deeds. It became the basis of their rejection of him. For them, Jesus did not belong to their community, a foreshadowing of the ultimate rejection of Jesus by the religious leaders of Israel.
Yes, because of this rejection Jesus was unable to perform many miracles save for healing some of the sick. Other than that he was unfazed. He came out of the storm of rejection intact and unperturbed, accepting the fact and proclaiming that “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”
We might be quick to point out that he is God, and therefore it is easy for him to accept the situation. He is truly divine and hence he does not need the acceptance of his people. But we have to remember the words of St. Paul:
“Though he was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself…” (Phil 2:6-8a NAB)
If he became human like us, then he must have felt the pang of hunger for acceptance and belonging as well. If he was able to withstood the rejection of his people, that must be because he already experienced great love in the heart of his mother, along with the love that his heavenly Father continuously communicated to him. He was truly human who was able to live and grow to his full potential because he was nurtured in his home in Nazareth with lavish love which enabled him to enter into the experience belongingness in the transcendent Communion of Love as a human being.
Jesus experienced wholeness, and deep unity within the Trinity in time and the Trinity in eternity in the face of frailty of human existence. That allowed himto brave the rejection in Nazareth, and the final rejection in Jerusalem. In the end, he may have been broken physically, but the human spirit that he made his own was never defeated.
We belong to Jesus by virtue of his self-giving love. When we call ourselves Christians, we affirm that our whole existence is based in this belongingness.
Lord Jesus, grant us the grace to live the objective reality that we now belong to you. Dwelling in your heart, may we truly be free to be and become the best of what we can be. Amen.