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 – John 15:18-19
It is hard to imagine that those who would fight for truth, for Jesus Christ and for the salvation of their fellow man would also be the same people who would be hated by the world for trying to help. Just look at what happened to our Lord. He came here to reestablish the relationship of men and women with His father and for His efforts we crucified Him. I can only imagine the hardship Jesus Christ must have faced knowing that there would be people who would hate Him for trying to save them, and yet this is the reality of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
There are two realities we have to accept as United Body tries to undertake any authentic renewal:
- Those who try and do the will of the Father in the world will be hated
- At every instant we must draw strength from the grace of God in order to be equipped for the battle ahead. This is accomplished through prayer and the sacraments
This spiritual battle that we need to prepare for will be met with much resistance. Even if we follow the will of the Father perfectly, and if our virtue of charity is so perfected and all that we do is for the love of our fellow man, we will still be hated. The world does not care about our desires to do good, it will do everything to destroy those who wish to go against it. The resistance will come from our friends, our families, and even with the church as we read in scripture:
Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man ‘against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household – Matthew 10:34-36
To follow Christ is to follow into a spiritual battle. The sad part is that this battle is not just within society but within the church as well. Many have lost their way within the church and we are at times in conflict with one another. Priest against the bishop, the laity against the priest, no one is spared from this conflict. If you follow Jesus Christ, do not expect an easy road. It will hurt greatly, it will cost you greatly but we are not working towards a reward in this life, but the next:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ – 1 Peter 1:3-7
I think we can sometimes delude ourselves to think that we can get to the next life without having to struggle or suffer. That we can be a follower of Jesus Christ by trying to avoid being wounded physically or spiritually. There is no avoiding this. If we are living the life of a true disciple of Christ this is the requirement in order that we may be saved. If we live a life trying to avoid this pain and hardship, we are not a true disciple and we will be lost:
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it – Luke 9:24
Are you feeling discouraged? Don’t be. Christ tells us that all this will be worth it:
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life – Matthew 19:29
What is the point of living if we are not living to be united with God and be with Him in heaven forever? He is our final goal, not a life devoid of suffering. Those who stick to Jesus Christ and persevere through the hardships, the crown will be theirs:
I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance – 2 Timothy 4:7-8
The intent of this post is to encourage, not discourage. I want to make the expectations of what is required clear to you but instead of being discouraged, proceed to battle and fight the good fight. The reward at the end outweighs the struggles a hundred fold and more. Just remember: we have to be prepared for battle. To go out unprepared will result in a painful defeat. Grow through the interior life, be nourished by the sacraments and when you do battle, always make sure to retreat to your castle to renew your defenses. If you are always mindful of this, you will not be overcome by the weariness of battle and will be able to persevere to the end by the grace of God!
Blessed Mother, pray for us! Lead all men and women to Jesus Christ!