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Wednesday, June 30, 1999

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First Martyrs of Rome

Genesis 21:5, 8-20
Psalm 34
Matthew 8:28-34

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the ultimate rejection

"The entire town came out to meet Jesus. When they caught sight of Him, they begged Him to leave their neighborhood." —Matthew 8:34

Hagar and her son Ishmael were rejected by Sarah (Gn 21:10). We likewise have been rejected throughout our lives. Although Jesus is the only Person Who has never rejected anyone (see Jn 6:37), He has been and continues to be rejected more than any person who has ever lived. We too have rejected Jesus.

Sometimes, Jesus is rejected in a most hateful way. For example, the people near the Gadarene boundary rejected Jesus and threw Him out of town (Mt 8:34). Although Jesus had cost them two thousand pigs' worth of pork chops, bacon, pork roasts, pigs' feet, and chitlins, He had profited the town by opening the road into the city which had been closed by the two demoniacs (Mt 8:28). Jesus had made it possible for commerce between this town and the surrounding area to be resumed. By sending Jesus away, the people of the town were not necessarily gaining anything. Their rejection of Jesus was a profitless expression of hate.

Jesus is the Sign of Contradiction (Lk 2:34) and the Stumbling-Stone (Mt 11:6). Eventually, Jesus will be the Person we love the most or hate the most. How could it be that Love Himself (1 Jn 4:16) be hated?

Prayer:  Jesus, may I never stop loving You. May I never love You less.

Promise:  "Don't be afraid; God has heard the boy's cry." —Gn 21:17

Praise:  The first martyrs of Rome came from all classes of Roman society — soldiers, peasants, nobility, and merchants.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, November 28, 1998

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 1, 1998