A Homily by Pope Francis
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 (John 15:18-19).
Meekness and humility are the weapons that we have to defend ourselves from the hatred of the world. This reflection is focused on the struggle between the love of Christ and the hatred of the prince of this world. The Lord tells us not to be afraid because the world will hate us as it hated him. The path of Christians is the path of Christ. If we want to be followers of Jesus, then there is no path other than the one he has showed us. And one of the results of this path is hatred. It is the hatred of the world. The world would love what is its own. Jesus says: “I have chosen you out of the world (John 15:19).” It is the Lord himself who has ransomed us from the world and has chosen us. Purest grace! With his death and resurrection, Jesus has ransomed us from the power of the world, from the power of the devil, from the power of the prince of this world. And the origin of the devil’s hatred is that we are saved. That prince hates because he does not want salvation and he does not want us to be saved.
So, the hatred and persecution of the early Christians continues even now. There are so many Christian communities that are persecuted in the world at this time in history; more so now than in the early years. It happens in these days and at this hour. Why? Because the spirit of this world hates. And this is a warning that is always relevant. With the prince of the world, there is no dialogue. Let this be clear! Dialogue is necessary among us today! Dialogue is necessary for peace! It is a habit and an attitude that we must have among ourselves in order to hear each other and understand each other. Dialogue must continue always. It arises from charity, from love. But with the prince of this world, there is no dialogue. Our only response is with the Word of God, which defends us when the world hates us. And what Jesus did with it, it will do within us.
People say: “But just do it this way. It is just cutting a corner or two. It is a little thing. It is nothing.” And then it takes us down a way that is not quite right. This is a seductive lie: “Just do it. There is no problem.” It starts small. That is always the way. Right? We say: “I am good. I am smart. I can do it.” It flatters us. It butters us up. And after this happens, we fall into the trap.
The Lord asks us to remain lambs, because if we stop being lambs, then we do not have a shepherd who defends us and we fall into the hands of wolves. Ask this question: What is the weapon for defending us from such seductions, from the fireworks of the prince of this world? The weapon is Jesus: the Word of God and meekness and humility. Let us think about Jesus. They strike him. Such meekness! Such humility! He could have insulted them, right? Now let us think about Jesus and his Passion. Like a sheep led to the slaughter, Jesus does not cry out. Nothing. Just meekness and humility. These are the weapons that the prince of the world and the spirit of the world cannot tolerate because their offerings are power, vanity, and dishonest wealth.
Jesus calls us to think about the world’s hatred for the followers of Jesus. The spirit of the world hates us because he saved us and ransomed us. And again, let us think of the weapons to defend ourselves: to remain always as lambs because in this way, we have a shepherd. And being lambs, let us be meek and humble. Finally, let us invoke the Blessed Mother so that she may help us become meek and humble in the way of Jesus. Note: Pope Francis delivered this homily at Daily Mass on May 4, 2013.
A Prayer by Saint Francis
Most High and Glorious God,
bring light to the darkness of my heart.
Give me right faith,
and perfect charity.
O Lord, give me insight and wisdom,
so that I might always discern
your holy and true will. Amen.
Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us!
Saint Clare of Assisi, pray for us!
Our Lady of Angels, pray for us!
Founded in 2007, the Assisi Project is an international fellowship of ‘Franciscans in Spirit’ with friends and followers in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Africa. We are dedicated to helping Christian believers of all ages to more faithfully live the Gospel of Christ in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. In 2017, in celebration of our 10th anniversary, we will lead our annual fall pilgrimage to Assisi; meet monthly for Mass, faith formation, and faith sharing; and offer adults several opportunities to experience a Franciscan-style “hermitage retreat.” For more information about the Assisi Project and upcoming opportunities for faith formation, prayer, and pilgrimage in the Franciscan spiritual tradition, please contact Cliff Garvey at email@example.com. May the Lord give you peace!
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