The following words of Jesus are found in the Gospel of John 15:
"I have told you this so that you may not fall away.
They will expel you from the synagogues;
in fact the hour is coming when everyone who kills you
will think he is offering worship to God.
They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.
I have told you this so that when their hour comes
you may remember that I told you."
What we read, in faith and truth, of Jesus' words to us are helps along life's pathways. As Christians, it is not easy to not fall away, just as it was difficult for those in Jesus' time to not be tempted to fall away. They were Jews--his disciples--and Jesus was reared a Jewish boy and man, as well. He also is the Son of God, the Messiah--bringing the Good News of salvation and securing our redemption: His Real Presence.
But he was expelled from the synagogue which was, what would be our Catholic Christian equivalent today--expelled from parishes. And He explains that those who kill not the body necessarily, but try to kill the thoughts, the emotions, the spirit within us and our very souls, do so because they think they know best, know what is right and legal in their worship and liturgy and rules and church laws.
So by silencing or shunning or running out people from the synagogue-parishes-congregations--those who consider themselves leaders and the righteous ones think they are saving the church, saving the faith, upholding the correct processes of liturgy, protecting the laws and precepts (many of these simply made up by people thinking they are doing the right thing, over time). They think by ridding out those who are enigmas to them, those who are different or perhaps simpler and in essence quite spiritual, they are doing God and the church a favor and are effectually protecting the correct worship of God.
We can save ourselves a lot of questions and wondering as to why people act this way, if we read and heed Jesus' reason and answer. "They do this because they have not known either the Father or me."
No wonder the Jewish rabbis, scholars, and everyday synagogue-goers despised Jesus. How dare he say that they do not know God? As for knowing him, yes, they surely thought they did. Is he not the son of Joseph, that carpenter from Nazareth? So what? He blasphemes by suggesting he is God's son! Probably some of the folks thought Jesus just a rabble-rouser, someone stirring up controversy to get attention or always going against the grain.
But the reality of what Jesus gives as the reason for the persecution runs true today as it did when He was alive as a human on this earth. People (can be us!) who tend to persecute, criticize, demean and judge as not up to snuff according to the laws and rules of churches or of the way the majority or ones in leadership positions deem correct--the problem is, they (we!) do not know either the Father or Jesus.
So there is something more to knowing God the Father and Jesus the Son, than following the rules and laws made by humans in their attempts to clarify or better control and manage the growing church over the years. Their intentions were no doubt honest and good--maybe even holy. But over time, amidst the meddling and muddling, the simple commandments of the Father and the Son and the messages of love imparted by the Holy Spirit, got in the way of knowing His Real Presence.
There is that aspect of knowing someone on the outside and not the inside. Knowing runs deeper than externals. Knowing is intimacy. Knowing involves the soul, the heart, the mind, the body, in love with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
And there are degrees of love which come under the general categories of: temporal love and spiritual love. Or, some holy people have categorized the degrees of love in four categories beginning with eros or erotic, sensual love, and ending with agape, or deep, spiritual love of God and others. Some begin with love of self and end with love of God in Himself.
Regardless the terminology and degrees delineated or the levels of love, knowing the Father and the Son is critical and key to remaining in His Love and His indwelling us. Knowing the Father and the Son in the spiraling and entwining love of the Holy Spirit, has less to do with externals and all to do with the inner dispositions of our thoughts, emotions...our wills and our souls.
So if we find ourselves somewhat or a great lot estranged from the temporal aspects of church worship and rules and laws, and if we find ourselves not embraced by those Christians who genuinely strive to protect and uphold (or even add to) the laws and rules and rites and rituals but have somehow slipped into deprecating, persecuting, fearing, distancing from, or shunning those who seem oddly out of step or not abiding by the laws in the way some decipher and interpret them: Do not be disheartened.
Do not give up on an intimate, loving, following, knowing of the Father and the Son. Keep praying to know His Real Presence, more and more! Accept the suffering that is part and parcel of intimate, deep, and abiding love of and with and from and through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Remember that Jesus even explains why He tells us the reason for not quite fitting in with those who know a lot but do not know either the Father or Him, deep down in. He says He is telling us so that we will know and remember that He told us, when their hour comes. Hour of their judgment, hour of their death? And what seems so good about His telling us is that we can have compassion and mercy.
These people (could be us!) who do not really know either the Father or the Son--think they do. And they are only acting out persecuting others who know the Father and the Son more intimately, because those who do not know Him within but know the externals, truly think they are upholding God's laws and are protecting the Church (synagogue, congregation, parish) by trying to silence, rid out, or correct those who to them seem so very wrong.
We will remember Jesus explained all these realities to us, when (and He does not say "if" we will be killed, but that they will kill us) these others' hour comes. Jesus lets us know that we all will have our hour--those who want to know the Father and Son and do know Him, and those who do not know either, not really.
Now, this nothing here has much to ponder in these Living Words of God. How well does this Catholic hermit really know the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit? To what level and degree of intimate, holy love does this nothing who is only anything at all when in His Real Presence, KNOW God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit?
Forget the piddling, temporal self-and-other-hurtled criticisms, doubts, detractions, put-downs, and ravings. Not approved by others, not a with-it parent, not in the mainstream, not credible as a person, not valid as a consecrated hermit, not relatable as a parishioner? Not a success with finances, not successful in pain management, not a success in career or vocation? None of the barbs and snares of those in the world (as well as our own negative self-world and the secular church world) helps us KNOW either the Father or the Son.
Focus on love of God above all else; focus on KNOWING His Real Presence in deep and abiding love that comes in every present moment of existing in the reality of God's intimate love of His creatures and creation, and especially His beloved, created souls--created in the image and likeness of Himself.
And accept all the suffering of picking up the crosses daily, and following Him, and notice that Jesus also says we will be expelled and even killed (and killed in all sorts of ways, not just the easy way of physical death which releases us from the trials of the temporal world and the more temporally-geared-but-well-meaning folks).
But we are not to fall away. Hang in with His Real Presence! Do not lose our faith; do not lose our being Christians and members of His Church--the Body of Christ with His Real Presence as the Head. Get to KNOW the Head of Christ, and then we will know and love the Body, too, no matter what they (us!) do because they (we!) do not KNOW the Father or the Son--not well enough, or so it seems most of the time.
Desiring and praying to KNOW the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit takes us nearly there. What remains is remaining in His Love. And that is a rather huge remainder. By His grace and His Love, it is accomplished easily, in faith and love. All things are possible to those who love God above all else.
God bless His Real Presence in us and us in Him! Little followers of His Real Presence, let us know the Father and the Son. Let us love Him intimately, deeply, and in Him love one another.