A reading and a reflection
St John 15: 18 – 26
‘If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “Servants are not greater than their master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfil the word that is written in their law, “They hated me without a cause.” When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.’
Wanting, or maybe needing to be loved is very human. If we are loved we belong. If we feel unloved or hated it affects how we feel about ourselves and how we belong. It’s all very well Jesus telling us we don’t belong to the world, but we live in it and what it thinks of us matters to us.
But if we only go out to conform, to act in ways that make us popular, successful and well judged by the world’s standards, then we aren’t living up to what Christ asks of us: to do what is right in spite of what it might do to our reputations.
It is unlikely that we will be called upon to be martyrs, to give up our lives, but we might be called upon to give up some of our comfort, our habits, maybe some of our security. Maybe we are being challenged to ask where our loyalty lies?
If, like the rich young ruler who asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life, we reply that we follow the Commandments we, like him, can feel right and justified that we obey the Law.
This response wasn’t wrong, but Jesus challenged him that it wasn’t enough. Just following the letter of the law makes us good citizens, but following Jesus makes us good disciples.
Living out our lives in a way that brings justice alive for all and challenges the law to breath equality is more challenging.
There are times when laws are made that don’t uphold life in the way Jesus teaches us to live it, what do we do then?
Ultimately we have to decide – who do we want to belong to, Christ or this world?
Would we stand up to testify this even if the world hated us for it?
Loving God, help us to love others
Those easy to love, those hard to love
Not forgetting to love ourselves and to love you