Sunday Vigil

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Remembrance of the Virgin Mary, venerated as Our Lady of Lujàn in Argentina. Memorial of the blessed martyrs of Algeria. Among them we remember Father Christian de Chergé, prior of the Trappist monastery of Notre Dame de l'Atlas, in Tibhirine in Algeria, who was kidnapped and killed in 1996 with his confreres by terrorists.


Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

John 15,18-21

If the world hates you, you must realise that it hated me before it hated you. 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. Remember the words I said to you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you too; if they kept my word, they will keep yours as well. 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.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After speaking of the intimate relationship of love between him and the disciples, Jesus speaks of the "hatred" that the powers of evil will impose on them because of his name. There is a radical incompatibility between the gratuitous love that characterizes Jesus' true disciple and the worldly logic that seeks to grab for oneself or make a profit to one's own advantage. This does not mean that we should alienate from the society in which we live. On the contrary we are called to be yeast of love and peace among people. An ancient Christian writing, The Epistle to Diognetus, says that Christians are in the world, but alien to its individualistic mentality; they dwell in fact human cities and yet like pilgrims, they walk towards the heavenly city. The world cannot stand this contradiction. And Jesus warns the disciples: "If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you." Hatred for Christians is therefore not a passing thing. It is part of the Christian experience precisely because hatred is part of life subjugated by evil. Ignatius of Antioch understood this well. While he was being taken prisoner to Rome, where he was to receive martyrdom, he wrote to the Romans: "Christianity is not a matter of force of persuasion but of true greatness when it is hated by the world." We could say: hatred is part of the life of the world, love of Christian life. There is a relentless struggle between Hate and Love. This is testified to in a lofty way by the very long line of martyrs who adorn twenty-one centuries of Christian history without interruption. Jesus is clear: "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you." And he adds: "Servants are no greater than their master." The disciple living the love of Jesus represents a continuous protest to the world that remains slave to the prince of evil. That is why the world hates the disciples: they do not belong to it.