It has taken me many years but I have come to the realization that, no matter what I do, no matter what I don’t do, not every single person whom I encounter will absolutely love and adore me. Even if I try to do every single thing right; even if I try to be a really super-nice guy to all, some people will not like me. Maybe I remind them of someone else! Perhaps I bring to mind a bully or a pest from elementary school. And maybe, just maybe, it’s actually me; perhaps I can be annoying, obnoxious, unthinking and hurtful, both unintentionally, and in my sinful nature, intentionally. There can be a million compliments given after a homily or a class for me, but the one critique given, that’s what I will remember! It’s all part of fallen human nature. It’s a simple fact — not everyone will always like me. And, sadly, if I’m honest with myself, there’s some people whom I encounter about whom I’m not too crazy, either!

The readings we proclaim this Sunday are all about how we do not like sometimes the just man. Read again the words of the Book of Wisdom: “Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us.” The Lord Jesus, who is truly the only perfectly just man, and who is the only one worthy of adoration, predicts his rejection and ultimately His blessed Passion in the Scripture passage we read Sunday in the Gospel of Mark. If the Lord Jesus, He who alone is perfect, cannot be accepted and loved by all, why should we, humble creatures, created in God’s image and likeness, but still fallen — due to the Original Sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve — expect anything different?

For those of us who are ordained in the service to God’s people, for those engaged in lay and religious apostolates of pastoral work, we want to be liked. Let’s face it, being liked helps bring people to Church and to the Lord Jesus. But it’s also nice to be liked; we also, even the most introverted among us, kind of liked being liked!

We should remember that, in humility, like the little child about whom He who truly is the greatest refers to in Sunday’s Gospel, our job is not about being liked and admired. It’s all about being good and just; being Christ to all whom we meet. It’s all about being, even when we are going to be considered obnoxious and going to be rejected, Christ. Our task as the Apostle James reminds us in the Second Reading is to — in spite of our flaws and failings — cultivate the peace of Christ to the world. Pray for that grace, in spite of our insecurities.

Father John P. Cush, STD, is a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn. He serves as the academic dean of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy. Father Cush is the author of The How-to-Book of Catho­lic Theology (OSV, 2020).