REFLECTION FOR TODAY
May 8, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
Jesus said to his disciples: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to 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, the world hates you.” Jn. 15:18-19
This is a sobering thought: “the world hates you.” That is, if you are among those who have been taken by our Lord out of the world. In that case, Jesus says that the world will hate you. The word “world” has two meaning in the Bible, first it means everything that has been created by God and redeemed by Jesus. The other meaning of the world is anything alienated from the divine, that is, indifferent or hostile and it is this meaning that Jesus referred to in the gospel reference of today.
No one wants to be hated. No one wants to experience the wrath, persecution, attacks, or ridicule of another. Hatred is ugly, painful, and difficult to endure. But that is part of the nature of hate. It’s not only a form of persecution, but also a form of manipulation. Hate is an attack upon another by which the hater seeks to inflict injury and to manipulate them to change and conform to their will. Jesus offers this teaching, in part, to prepare us so that when we do experience hatred from the world, we will not be affected by it nor manipulated to turn from Him. Therefore, this teaching is a revelation of much mercy from our Lord.
Jesus had told us of three enemies of our soul. The flesh, the devil, and the world. So, to “belong to the world” means that a person allows themself to be negatively influenced by the countless lies embedded within the world. The secular media, pop-culture, biased opinions, social pressures, false images of happiness and the like seek to constantly misguide us and draw us in.
We are regularly tempted to believe that fulfillment is found in money, our physical appearance, the recognition of our accomplishments, and much more. The world tells us that our opinions must conform to the secular values of the age—and if they don’t, then we are judgmental, close-minded, extremists, and should be shunned and “cancelled” or silenced.
These worldly temptations and pressures are real, and, for that reason, Jesus’ words are freeing. They free us from the manipulations and deceptions we will experience when we live our faith openly for all to see. When we do so, we will be hated by the world. But knowing that provides peace of heart when it happens.
Reflect, today, upon these powerful and consoling words of Jesus. If you do not experience any form of hatred from the world, then this should be a concern and the cause for reflection. And if you do experience some form of hatred, know that our Lord prepared you for this and offers you His strength and courage to endure it with joy. In the end, all that matters is what our Lord thinks, and nothing else. In the end, if you experience hatred by the world in any form, know that this makes you more like Christ Himself.
My persecuted Lord, You endured the hatred and ridicule of many who were engulfed by the false values of the world. I pray that I may share not only in Your life of love and mercy but also in Your strength during the times that I also endure the world’s hatred. I commit myself to You and pray that You continually take me out of the world and bring me close to Yourself. Jesus, I trust in You.