I had only one pair of pants, two shirts, my camera, and a Star Wars novel. Everything else was still in my suitcase. And my suitcase was still somewhere between Toronto and Frankfurt.
I was in Amman, Jordan, wondering how I might still capture enough media content to make the transatlantic journey worthwhile. I was there to learn about the Jesuit Center and the refugee community it serves.
I stumbled out of the airport terminal and found my hosts: two young South Sudanese men and an American Jesuit. Huddled around a tiny table at the airport café, we hatched plans to both recover my lost suitcase and lost time.
“I only have these two shirts so I hope no one will be offended,” I joked. Then I caught myself. Here I was, making a big deal about lost luggage, limited belongings and an inconvenient array of airline connections.
And I was talking to guys who had fled violence in South Sudan with nothing to their name. My missed connections cost me a matter of hours; they’d been in Jordan for years.
Today’s readings are all about rejection. Joseph’s brothers reject him because their father seemingly loves him best. Jesus, too, warns us that rejection will follow those who live the Gospel. St. Ignatius taught that rejection is to be expected if we’re following Christ’s path of downward mobility.
Sitting at that café in the Queen Alia International Airport, I might as well have been a modern-day Joseph.
Did I not appear to be the favored son to my South Sudanese hosts, waxing poetic about clothing and personal items? Didn’t they, as children of the same God, wonder why I had been seemingly chosen for gifts and glory while they were cast aside, while they had been rejected by society?
And yet, it wasn’t rejection that greeted me but hospitality.
Maybe rejection is only a Gospel necessity because we haven’t yet been courageous enough to dream up a world, to act on behalf of a world, where everyone is welcome. Let’s make that our Lenten commitment.
- Rejection seems unavoidable as we follow the Gospel. Yet, how often am I the one guilty of rejecting others?
- How does this rejection manifest itself in my actions, thoughts and words?
- How might I use these forty days to sow seeds of welcome?
Eric Clayton is the deputy communications director at the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, responsible for developing and sharing resources and reflections to promote Ignatian spirituality. He is the author of the forthcoming book Cannonball Moments: Telling Your Story, Deepening Your Faith (Loyola Press). He and his wife are both graduates of Fairfield University and live in Baltimore, MD, with their two daughters.