daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Saturday, 5th Week of Easter, May 12, 2012
Acts 16:1-10, Ps. 99, John 15:18-21

"If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:19).

Christ chose us out of the world, and so, as Christians, we are no longer of the world, as he also was not of the world (John 17:14); and so the world hates us. If we were of the world, the world would love us as its own. But because we live for God, as Christians; and not for ourselves, as does the world; therefore the world hates us. "I have given them thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 17:14).

This antagonism against the world and the worldly culture, values, and lifestyle that surround us increases if we renounce the world in a still more radical way. Priests and religious who renounce marriage, and contemplatives who not only renounce marriage but also their family, their home, and all the pleasures of the world-succulent food, television, movies, radio, pleasure trips, etc.-are still more opposed to the world, to its false values, and to its secular lifestyle than are Christian householders. And also the more we renounce the world and its lifestyle, the more we will be persecuted by the world, for the world will not understand us. "Because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:19).

The Christian householder life cannot so radically renounce the world, because it has the joy of marriage, the pleasure of sex, and because it raises children and shows them the good things of the world-yet this life is blessed by God. But more blessed, a hundred times more blessed (Matt. 19:29), is the life that renounces the world, marriage, family, home, and all the pleasures of the world (Matt. 19:29; 13:44-46; 19:21; Luke 14:33; John 12:25; Mark 8:35; Gal. 6:14; Luke 6:24; Matt. 8:22; Luke 9:59-62; Luke 5:11, 28; Col. 3:1-2; Luke 14:26; Matt. 6:19-21; Matt. 7:13-14; Mark 12:30; Luke 18:29) to love God alone with all the love and concentration of one's heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:30). They seek to love God with an undivided heart (1 Cor. 7:32-34), and so are more blessed by God (Matt. 19:29). This is the contemplative life. Priests and religious can also live this way if they seek a more perfect (Matt. 19:21), more radical, and more blessed life (Matt. 19:29).

In our day when in certain countries we are undergoing such a great crisis of priestly and religious vocations, it is good, I believe, to emphasize the importance and dignity of this more radical kind of Christian life, of this life that seeks to love and serve God with a radically undivided heart (1 Cor. 7:32-34). Indeed, priests and religious who become contemplatives will normally be still more blessed, for then they renounce more for Christ. But they will also be more rejected and persecuted by the world that cannot understand them. So "Do not wonder brethren, that the world hates you" (1 John 3:13). "Because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:19).

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