Readings: Acts 16:1-10, Ps. 100:1-3,5, John 15:18-21

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)

Today’s liturgy brings us to the end of the fifth week of Easter. On Sunday, we heard Jesus describe Himself as the Vine while we are the Branches. Without Jesus, we are like branches cut from the tree: dry, unproductive, and only good for firewood. During this week, we heard Jesus spell out the terms of abiding with him, which include keeping His commandments, loving others as He loved us, and believing in Him. Having laid out all the benefits of abiding in Him as branches of the Vine, Jesus shocks us today by teaching us that abiding in Him does not make us immune from the world’s hatred. Why does the world hate Christians? How do we respond to the world’s hatred? These are some of the points we shall discuss today. 

1. Why Does The World Hate Christians? The world’s hatred is a reflection of the world’s rejection of Jesus Christ. “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.” (Matthew 10:24-25). The world hates Christians because they see a reflection of Christ in them. “And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19). The world prefers darkness to light. Evil is always more attractive than good. If you are not experiencing opposition from the world, it means there is nothing about you that points to Christ; you are not a threat to the kingdom of darkness because they see you as one of theirs. Jesus says in today’s Gospel passage: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19). In other words, there is something wrong if you don’t have enemies or those who hate you for being a Christian.

2. It Is Okay To Be Hated; Avoid Compromise: Faced with the world’s hatred, Christians often find themselves aligning with the world in the name of “giving to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.” Since one cannot beat them, is it not better to join them? Of course, this is why it has become hard to distinguish and identify a true Christian today. We go to church, but we are so unlike Christ. Instead of reflecting light, we have become part of the darkness. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other...” (Matthew 6:24). You don’t have to be like everyone else. Knowing that the world would hate us, Jesus, who chose us from the world, has already prepared a way for us. Evil may be popular, but as a light, you are humanity’s last hope. You are a living bible; make a difference by being different. 

3. Match Their Hatred With Love: When we hate those who hate us, we are no longer different from the world. They may leave us peacefully, but by then, we have lost the battle and given away our chance to shine our light. “You have heard it was said: ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45). Is it possible to love those who hate us? Jesus answered this question by giving an example of his life. If Jesus died for us while we were still enemies of God (Cf. Romans 5:10), it is possible to love those who hate us. If Jesus forgave those who crucified him, it is possible to forgive anybody. If Jesus prayed for his enemies, blessing those who curse us is possible. (Cf. Matthew 5:38-39). 

4. Be Attentive to the Holy Spirit: Do you feel overwhelmed with the world’s hatred? Remember, we have an advocate and a comforter – The Holy Spirit. He is our guide. In today’s first reading, the Holy Spirit played a key role in Paul’s missionary enterprise, forbidding him from entering Asia and Bithynia. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul saw a vision of a man calling for his help in Macedonia and took as a God directing him to that place. The message of this passage is that Paul’s success did not come from his efforts. Paul was successful because he cooperated with the Holy Spirit. As we gradually approach Pentecost, let us re-open our dialogue with the Holy Spirit, who will guide us through the world’s hatred.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, teach me to love just as you loved. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen

Remember, amid all challenges, choose to be happy. Live with a positive mindset and believe in God’s plan for you. God bless you abundantly. (Saturday of the 5th week of Eastertide. Bible Study: Acts 16:1-10, Ps. 100:1-3,5, John 15:18-21).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu