Good morning, happy Saturday, and blessings.
In today’s Gospel (John 15:18-21) Jesus said to his disciples: “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. But it is also interesting when Jesus tells us; "If the material world hates you, you know it has hated me before you. This version is taken from the Gospel of Thomas which for me is another source of inspiration and helps us understand what Jesus identifies as the world.
In other words, Jesus is assuming that there are some people in what we call the world that for some reason they going to hate us. It seems to me that the important thing would be to be able to identify the reasons why they are going to hate us.
If any church is moving in the power of the Holy Spirit and fulfilling its mission as command, that church will be hated and persecuted by the world. Like Paul, the shepherd will be considered the filth of the earth. And the church will be hated by ungodly politicians and leaders of society. It will also be despised by religious leaders who are spiritually dead.
However, Jesus says to that church: “Blessed are those who suffer persecution for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed will you be when they insult me, persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you, lying. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for thus they persecuted the prophets who lived before you. ” (Matthew 5: 10-12).
In the face of persecution, Jesus' followers have two reasons to rejoice and be glad. First, they know that God rewards those who suffer for their faith, and that their reward will indeed be great in heaven. … The second reason Jesus' followers can rejoice in tribulation is that they stand in good company: In the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you, Jesus says.
In my understanding, there are two dangers for the friends of Jesus. The first is the temptation to make compromises with a culture that marginalizes and crushes some people to avoid conflict and rejection. This is what some people call unity in neutrality. The danger of calls to unity is that they are often based in a spirit of neutrality. What we claim as “neutrality” is not neutral, however. Speaking in his own context of poverty in Latin America, Gustavo Gutiérrez -in his book, A Theology of Liberation- describes the danger of neutrality: It is not possible to remain neutral in the face of poverty and the resulting just claims of the poor; a posture of neutrality would, moreover, mean siding with the injustice and oppression in our midst. This is when they going to hate you.
The second danger is the temptation to like to disturb this status quo. When we are rebels at heart and like to shock people, we can create a fight in order to be in the limelight. We can do some of these things unconsciously, experience rejection and then think that we are being persecuted like Jesus was.
All this because the Gospel of Jesus was never and will not be neutral, therefore, we cannot resort to this false neutrality to avoid being hated. We must take a position and define ourselves, even if the world hates us.
Working for peace with justice always antagonizes oppressors when we fight racism, ethnocentrism, xenophobia, heterosexism, sexism, classism, etc.
The challenge for today is that we stop playing the game of neutrality because that does not exist,
let's get out of our comfort zone, and let’s accept the reality that they hate us because of the justice of the Gospel of Jesus. As radical disciples and as a prophetic church is our calling.
Padre Luis +