Lectio Divina: John 15:18-21
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God;
it is good to live in the friendship
of Your Son Jesus Christ.
Make us realize that also in this love
we are committed to Him and share with Him
for better or for worse,
in misunderstanding and contradiction
as well as in joy and intimacy.
Help us to rejoice even when treated
with indifference or ridicule on account of Him,
for it means that He is still with us
who is our Lord forever.
2) Gospel Reading - John 15:18-21
Jesus said to his disciples: "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. Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me."
• John 15:18-19: The hatred of the world. “If the world hates you, you must realize that it hated Me before it hated you.” The Christian who follows Jesus is called to live in a way that is contrary to society. In a world organized according to the egoistic interests of people and groups, Christians seek to live and radiate the love which will be crucified. This was the destiny of Jesus. This is why, when a Christian is praised by the power of this world and is exalted as a model for all by mass media, it is good to not trust that too much. “If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you do not belong to the world, because My choice of you has drawn you out of the world, that is why the world hates you.” It was Jesus’ choice which separated us. If we base ourselves on this vocation of Jesus, we will have the strength to suffer persecution and to have joy in spite of the difficulties.
• John 15:20: The servant is not greater than his master. “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept My word they will keep yours as well.” Jesus had already insisted on this same point in the washing of the feet (Jn 13:16) and in the discourse on the mission (Mt 10:24-25). It is this identification with Jesus throughout the centuries that has given so much strength to people to continue the journey, and has been a source of mystical experience for many saints and martyrs.
• John 15:21: Persecution on account of Jesus. “But it will be on My account that they will do all this to you, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” The repeated insistence of the Gospel in recalling those words of Jesus which can help the communities understand the reason for persecutions is evidence that our brothers and sisters of the first communities did not have an easy life. From the persecution of Nero after Christ, up to the end of the first century, they lived knowing that they could be persecuted, accused, imprisoned and killed at any moment. The force which sustained them was a certainty that God was with them.
4) Personal questions
• Does the world love me? Do others love me as one who goes along with the values, expectations, and priorities of the world, or as one who sets a higher example according to Jesus?
• How do I respond to persecution from others? Is it a way to offer leadership in love to others, or do I shrink from it and conform to expectations?
• At times when others persecute me, is it because I am truly showing love and the will of the Father to others, or am I behaving even worse than society expects?
5) Concluding Prayer
For Yahweh is good,
His faithful love is everlasting,
His constancy from age to age. (Ps 100:5)