O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve,
to the glory of God the Father
O be joyful in the Lord, all the earth;
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with a song.
Know that the Lord is God;
it is he that has made us and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and bless his name.
For the Lord is gracious; his steadfast love is everlasting,
and his faithfulness endures from generation to generation.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘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. Remember the word that I said to you, “Servants are not greater than their master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.’
If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own.
We live in a fickle world where moods and fancies change with the wind. Sometimes we feel that we understand what is going on around us, and sometimes it feels like a complete mystery. In today’s reading we hear Jesus speaking of this dilemma, the dilemma that confronts us every day of our lives.
When we are young we tend to work hard at ensuring our fashionable status. We want to be accepted. We want to demonstrate where we fit in our social circle through the clothes we wear, the music we listen to and our attitude towards the society in which we live. We want people to recognize our status as ones who belong to the world. We are afraid of being singled out as one who does not understand, one who does not belong.
For many this craving for acceptance and recognition changes as we grow older. It does not go away, of course, but it does change. We reach a point where the transitory nature of keeping up with the latest fashions no longer holds us in its thrall. But, that does not mean that we stop wanting to be seen as belonging, we simply change direction and emphasis. Perhaps, our behaviour is adapted to suit the demands of our work, the social circle in which we find ourselves living or some other worldly driving force. Whatever the motivation, we still seek to be seen as belonging to the world.
If we resist the temptation to be seen as a credible part of the world in which we live, whether through choice or just ‘missing the mark’ at which we are aiming, we often become isolated, even rejected. We find ourselves labelled as misfits or antisocial. We find ourselves being pressured into seeking the compromise that will make us acceptable to our colleagues and neighbours, sometimes our family.
Today Jesus offers advice and encouragement to those who do not want to tread the same ‘fashionable’ path as the majority. Today Jesus is warning us of the potential consequences of holding on to our faith and commitment to God, even when the dictates of fashion say otherwise.
Jesus understands that faithful discipleship will never be ‘trendy’. He warns us of the rejection that may confront us, but he also offers us the consolation of knowing that such rejection was experienced by him first.
Jesus also warns us of the danger of thinking we can ‘tweak’ the demands of a faithful life to create some sort of half-way house between true discipleship and total social acceptability. This ‘ideal’ situation simply does not exist. We are called to follow the path of the Lord and Master who went before us, living a life without compromise, without the need for worldly adulation.
Jesus calls us to stand firm. Let us pray for the strength to do just that. Let us not throw ourselves into the arms of those whose whims and fancies would drive a wedge between ourselves and God. Rather let us hold firm in our discipleship, committed completely to sharing the love and the light of Christ with all whom we meet in this world. Let us be the ones who set the trend for others to follow.
Prayers of Intercession
Encouraged by our fellowship with all the saints, let us make our prayers to the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Father, your Son called men and women to leave the past behind them and to follow him as his disciples in the way of the cross. Look with mercy upon those whom he calls today, marks with the cross and makes his disciples within the Church.
Your Son told his disciples not to be afraid and at Easter breathed on them his gift of peace. Look with mercy upon the world into which he sent them out, and give it that peace for which it longs.
Your Son formed around him a company who were no longer servants but friends, and he called all those who obeyed him his brother and sister and mother. Look with mercy upon our families and our friends and upon the communities in which we share.
Your Son sent out disciples to preach and heal the sick. Look with mercy on all those who yearn to hear the good news of salvation, and renew among your people the gifts of healing.
Your Son promised to those who followed him that they would sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel and would share the banquet of the kingdom. According to your promise, look with mercy on those who have walked with Christ in this life and now have passed through death.
Prayer for the week
O Lord, the first and the last, the beginning and the end:
you who were with us at our birth,
be with us through our life;
you who are with us through our life,
be with us at our death;
and because your mercy will not leave us then,
grant that we die not,
but rise to the life everlasting.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
O strength and stay upholding all creation,
who ever dost thyself unmoved abide,
yet day by day the light in due gradation
from hour to hour through all its changes guide.
St Ambrose (c.340–397), translated by John Ellerton (1826–1893)
and Fenton John Anthony Hort (1828–1892)