In the last days, as St. Paul wrote, people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, and lovers of pleasure rather than God. Whatever is good, whatever is holy, whatever is spiritual, whatever is of God will be hated during those distressing times and St. Thomas Aquinas gives some reasons to explain why. But to be a God-hater is not something we would fall into unless we fail to do the one thing most needful. That is, to acknowledge God.
The three most powerful words ever spoken in the world are the words of admission Jesus made about himself; that he is the “Son of God”. These words are essential because they reveal his identity as well as his mission in the world. “TheSonof God wasrevealedfor this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). We know how powerful these words are because of three main reasons:
First, it made the evil spirits recoil and submit to the authority of Jesus. “He cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’” (Mark 1:24–25).
Second, it disturbed those who do not want to submit to the authority of God. It caused them to be violent towards Jesus to the point of conspiring against him and condemning him to death. “The high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’Jesus said, ‘I am; and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses?You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?’ All of them condemned him as deserving death” (Mark 14:61–64).
Third, it made those who believe in the name of the Son of God to live miraculous lives. Just like Peter. Through his confession of faith: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16), he came to know his identity and mission in the world. Jesus told him, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18–19).
This is also true for every believer and baptized Christian. “For the SonofGod, Jesus Christ, it is always ‘Yes’. For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen,’ to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1:19–20). By believing in Jesus as the Son of God, we become heirs of the kingdom of God and participants of his divine sonship. “To all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12). But the impact of his name is not only in a positive sense but also in a negative sense. Jesus warned, “You will behatedbyallbecause of my name” (Luke 21:17; Mark 13:13; Matthew 24:9).
To be hated by the world is not what many Christians are willing to accept. So, instead of taking it up as a cross, the teachings of Christ are being compromised. The worst thing happening among Christians today is the outright denial of Christ and joining the world in its unreasonable hatred for him. “They hated me without a cause” (John 15:25). Many deny the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, leading to many unworthy communions. Many profane the Blessed Sacrament, such as eating during mass, leaving the sacred host in the pew, and dropping the sacred host on the floor, to name a few sacrileges.
Why is there hatred for God? Why is there hatred for Jesus, the Son of God? Why is there hatred for the holy, the sacraments, the Church, which are the signs of God? St. Thomas Aquinas, a doctor of the Church, gives us some reasons to explain why.
#1. The world is in a state of death, but those who are holy are in a state of life.
“Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death” (1 John 3:13–14). This spiritual death is shown in how they put the Lord to the test. “Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross’” (Matthew 27:39–40).
“He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange” (Wisdom 2:13–14).
“Let us test him with insult and torture, so that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected” (Wisdom 2:19–20).
#2. The world does not like to be corrected.
“They hate the one who reproves in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks the truth” (Amos 5:10). It does not want to acknowledge its ways as evil and be led to change. “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil” (John 7:7).
#3. The world is full of envy.
“Through the devil’senvydeath entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it” (Wisdom 2:24). “Forenvydoes not associate with wisdom” (Wisdom 6:23). The envy of the Egyptians against the Israelites led them to hate and murder the newborn sons of the Hebrews. The envy of Joseph’s brothers led them to sell him as a slave for twenty pieces of silver. “Where there isenvyand selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind” (James 3:16).
#4. The world hates what does not conform to its ways.
The world likes what is like itself. “If you belonged to theworld, theworldwould love you as its own” (John 15:19). So, if the world hates you (i.e. those who love the world and who are unlike you), it does so because you do not conform to its ways. “The bloodthirsty hate the blameless, and they seek the life of the upright” (Proverbs 29:10). “The unjust are an abomination to the righteous, but the upright are an abomination to the wicked” (Proverbs 29:27).
#5. The world does not abide in the truth.
“This is the Spirit of truth, whom theworldcannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him” (John 14:17). Since it hates the truth, it hates Christ who is the “way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Anyone who is in Christ is also hated by the world. “Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them” (John 13:16).
St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Therefore, it is not unfitting for you to undergo the same sufferings as your Lord; rather, you should regard this as a great glory”. “Nothing is better than the fear of the Lord, and nothing sweeter than to heed the commandments of the Lord” (Sirach 23:27); “it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master” (Matthew 10:25).
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner” is a traditional prayer esteemed by the spiritual fathers as a method for opening one’s mind and heart, for inviting the presence of God to enter into our inner life, and for purifying us from sin. We are in the last days, the Messianic era; there’s no doubt about it. During these times when hatred for God is becoming more and more prevalent, this prayer offers us a starting point to seek the intervention of God for our sake and for the sake of every sinner.