May 16, 2021
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University - Retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Seventh Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 58, 60

Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26
Psalm 103:1-2, 11-12, 19-20
1 John 4:11-16
John 17:11b-19

Celebrating Easter Home

For those celebrating the Ascension today

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

An Easter Blessing

Easter Joy in Everyday Life

So they proposed two, Judas called Barsabbas,
who was also known as Justus, and Mathias . . . Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.

Acts of the Apostles

This is a season of celebrating graduations, starting new jobs and the like. But it’s also a time of painful rejections, of not getting into your dream college or med school or being passed over for a job.

During my 25 years at Creighton, I spent almost equal amounts of time celebrating successes and helping students cope with rejections.

I thought about those tearful conversations in the Acts of the Apostles reading about the choice of Mathias over Justus to join the Apostles. Justus must have been an extraordinary disciple to be named a finalist. He was a little like the 4.0 students wait-listed for med school.

How did Justus accept his loss? Was he sad or angry? Did he remain a disciple or turn away from the community? Did he retain his faith and continue serving in another role? The Bible doesn’t tell us but it’s worth contemplating because we all face rejection at some point and often have to help others do so.

I have long thought that the key to coping is believing that God has something else in mind for us. The old saying that “when God closes a door, he opens a window” can only be true if we believe this.

The process starts with prayer to accept that God has an alternate (and frequently better) plan for our lives. Hard as it is, we must trust that in losing we might win – one of those paradoxes like those in the Prayer of St. Francis.  I’m not a Pollyanna but this has worked in my life and in those of students I comforted.

Two quick stories:

A brilliant and beautiful junior wept when she lost out for her dream internship. I doubt she had ever before finished second for anything. So, we discussed the path God had in mind for her. She discovered that the corporate internship she lost didn’t match her values. Instead, she got an internship in health care that led to her successful career in health and human services PR.

Then there’s a young woman who was forced to retake one of my classes to bring up her grade. Instead of being angry, it motivated her to prove how capable she was. Today she mentors young people from less privileged backgrounds. I don’t know if she would be on this path if she hadn’t turned the experience of failure into serving others as we are commanded to do.

We can’t avoid rejection but if we or our children, like Justus, have to find an alternative road, God will help us because he really does “write straight with crooked lines.”

I wish everyone success in doing so and hope that Justus did so. And congratulations to all finding new paths and starting next life steps.

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