The “world” is spoken of in many senses throughout the Sacred Scriptures but never in a neutral way. One such instance occurs in the Gospel of St. John, when our Lord says to his disciples, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first” (John 15:18). Our Lord continues, “If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you” (John 15:19). That is the word “world” appearing six times explicitly in only two verses! What is this “world” about which our Lord speaks?
It is the “world” that crucifies our Lord. It is the “world” that plots against Him, condemns Him and spits on Him, scourges Him and nails Him to a cross. It is a mocking world of hypocritical Pharisees and spineless government officials, abusive soldiers and fickle crowds, sycophantic opportunists and delusional ideologues. It is a world that is still very much alive today.
Our Lord knew this. For this reason, He warned His followers, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). This has been the history of the Church for twenty centuries. Our Lord knew His Church would face attacks from outside and betrayal from within. The “world” does not rest easy with people who speak the truth as our Lord proclaimed it. This is why we have saints and why martyrs exist.