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REJECTED

September 10, 2023

REJECTED
I was never a great basketball player; I simply couldn’t keep up with my growth spurts. However, so were also many of friends, so we balanced out a bit since we all at times were tripping over our own feet! On occasion as we picked up a game at the apartment complex where we lived, a hustler, or maybe I will describe them as someone with the right outfit and high-tops, would muscle in on our game. Of course this person was someone who practiced daily and had developed some skills, brought his own ball to play with, and was older and taller! Maybe a bit of a basketball bully! 
One game in particular with this semi-pro hustler, was so intense, but we were giving him a run for his money! As I finally made it into the clear after using my very best moves and wearing my best pair off chucks, I squared myself with the basket and was quickly passed the ball, I jumped and released my shot only to have the basketball violently smacked down into my face from out of nowhere. The hustler triumphantly shouting, REJECTED! It is certainly one thing to have my shot blocked but quite another to not only have my shop blocked but to add the loser word REJECTED, with an big exclamation point, and for all the neighborhood to hear!
Needless to say, rejection on a whole is not something I handle very well. Maybe it is somewhat tied to this game and many other instances where I came up short or gave it my best only to not be accepted or chosen. I return to these feelings of rejection today, because when I read again the wedding banquet parable, I felt the word rejected come to mind. In our Lord’s wedding parable is that not what Christ is asking us? “The kingdom of the heavens hath been likened to a man, a king, who made wedding festivities for his son. [Mt. 22:2] “But having no care for it they went away, the one to his own field, and another to his commerce. [Mt. 22:5] We when we chose sin and its earthly gratification and deny the heavenly kingdom, are we not rejecting Christ? Is not the very taste of death ever so erroneously tempting? Our Risen Lord certainly handles rejection much better than I do! 
Listen to the prophecy of Isaiah that speaks to you and me: “Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants. Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant. Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him Others besides those who are gathered to him.” (Isaiah 56:6-8)
Our Lord is telling us we don’t need our fancy high tops or athletic skills. What we need is to day after day, seek God first, root out everything that separates us from Him, and distance ourselves from the rotting world of self-pleasures or as Saint Paul tells the church in Colossae “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” (Colossians 3:5-10)
When we knowingly and hungrily seek after these vices, aren’t we telling our Savior, WE REJECT YOU! We can do better. Our lives depend on us loving Christ more than this smoke-screen devil loving world! “Then he saith to his slaves, ‘The wedding indeed is ready, but those who had been invited were not worthy. [Mt. 22:8] “For many are called, but few are chosen.” [Mt. 22:14] Now who is being REJECTED! 
May the Lover of mankind have mercy on us all!
Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-10-2023

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