The World’s Hatred

John 15: 18-21
Acts 16: 1-10 / Ps 100:1-2,3,5

I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
(John 15:19)

How can the choice be hard to make,
Between life or death, wealth or grace?
Let us not make the grave mistake
To love this world and lose the race.

(Jesus said), “If the world hates you, know that it hated me first. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, `No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. And they will do all this to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.” (John 15: 18-21)

Reflection

There is no gray area here. We cannot have one and enjoy the other as well. As Jesus so clearly pointed out, “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt.6:24). We also read in the first letter of John: “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). The letter of St. James echoes the same message: “Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

What is the “world” being referred to here? It is everything in this life that appeals to our carnal desires, or those “of the flesh”. St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans: “For the concern of the flesh is hostility towards God; it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7-8). It is only when we have learned to “crucify” our material or carnal concerns and detach ourselves from the pleasures of the world that the Spirit of God can dwell in us.

Ultimately (if we still remain bull-headed), God may take the initiative, and that is when we will experience the pain of purification. Many times in our brotherhood’s assemblies, we have heard testimonies of personal conversions to a more meaningful relationship with God, but only after the speaker(s) experienced a reversal of fortunes, like bankruptcy, a life-threatening illness, imprisonment, or even the loss of a loved one. This is the other kind of ‘persecution’ that our Lord is referring to in this Gospel passage.

St. Paul warns us: “Do not be conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2). The world is Satan’s domain (his playground, really). At every opportunity he lures us into the false belief that our worldly concerns take precedence over everything in our life. Even above our moral standards and spiritual goal. “But do not be led astray,” St. Paul says, “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1Cor. 15:33). Instead, let the Word of God guide us always in the proper conduct of our lives, and the Holy Spirit will shield us from the evils of this world.

Loving Father, we thank You for the guidance and inspiration that we find in Your Word, the Bible. Grant us the grace to persevere in conforming ourselves to all the values taught by our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel, so that we may always abide in the Spirit. Amen.

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