Are you fed to the lions? Saturday, 5th Week of Easter – Acts 16:1-10/ John15:18-21
Jesus has been preparing his apostles for fruitfulness (John 15:5) and as he says, ‘even greater works than he did’ (John14:12). Yet he knows that the tasks ahead are not going to be easy for the apostles. They will be hated for standing up for Jesus and so he exhorts his apostles to “remember” (John 15:20) the words that he has taught them. He will tell them (not in the text of today) in John 16:1 that the reason he has been teaching them all this is so that when they are persecuted, ‘they may not stumble.’
In the Gospel of John, the author makes a clear division between the children of light and the children of darkness. The children of darkness belong to the ‘world’ and the ruler of this world is Satan (John 14:30). Clearly, if that be so, then it is the children of light who are walking in unwelcome territory and the consequences are clear; they will be hated not just disliked. Hate is a strong word and Jesus does not diminish the challenges of the road ahead in order to win a few more followers.
Jesus is clear in John 14:30; satan, the ‘ruler of this world’ has no power over him. Yet, that does not mean he will not work against Jesus or try to deceive. Remember it was satan, the prince of deceivers, who came to Jesus when he was fasting for forty days in the wilderness. He came with words of deception, stopping at nothing, even misquoting sacred scripture. Satan uses every instrument in this world, human or inanimate to lure us further into his darkness. His billboards are always loud and flashy over the small yet unwavering voice of the children of light.
Jesus tells the apostles and us that the world will hate us. The world would not hate us if we were members of their commune, their mindset, their belief system. The world demands to have the freedom of speech yet the world will deny that same right even to one child of the light that speaks against their belief system. Yet, the minute you switch over to the side of the world, arms are thrown open, honours are bestowed and invitations flow.
To experience that persecution from the rank and file of society and sometimes even withing the Church is not uncommon. Those who have loved the Lord have experienced this persecution time and time again. Jesus was emphatic when he warned us that parents would turn against their children and brother against brother all because they made a choice for Jesus.
Today, if we are not being fed to the lions, especially in our country, it means that we have kept our religious identity a secret. It means that we have not gone out as the Mass commands us to proclaim the good news. It is because we have chosen to hide our light or even worse extinguish it so that no one may know who we are. Ironically while many ‘children of the light’ keep their religious beliefs and identity a secret they have no difficulty presenting their secular credentials with details of earthly achievements plastered all over their business card and every social media platform.
The children of the world continue to build more shrines to ego, selfishness, hate, greed, avarice and vice. Notice how the culture of this world does not ask for more Churches in which we can pray and connect to God but the culture of this world will not seek to build another mall, another multiplex, another hyper- market. We want more of the world, less of Jesus.