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FGF Op-Ed
May 29, 2019

Monsignor Charles Pope

Sobran examines hatred of Christ: Disbelievers can be His best witnesses

by Monsignor Charles Pope

Washington, D.C. — The late columnist Joseph Sobran once pondered the special hatred of the world for Christ. He wrote:
Great as Shakespeare is, I never lose sleep over anything he said … By the same token nobody ever feels guilty about anything Plato or Aristotle said … We aren’t tempted to resist them as we are tempted to resist Christ. (Joseph Sobran’s “The Words and Deeds of Christ” from Subtracting Christianity: Essays on American Culture and Society, FGF Books, 2015, pp. 1-2)

There is no rational explanation for the world’s intense fear of and hatred for Christ and Catholicism except to echo the words of Christ Himself: If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

I have often contemplated this hostility toward and resistance to Christ and His Body, the Church; it is unparalleled. Few of the Protestant denominations experience this hatred. The Buddhists don’t seem to be subject to it. Even the Muslims are exempt despite the distinctly non-Western views that predominantly Muslim countries have on many social issues important to the American Left.

There is an almost visceral hatred for Jesus Christ and His Church that is so over the top, so irrational, that one has to marvel at it. The world doth protest too much. Why? Is it fear? Perhaps, but the Church is not powerful enough to “force our views” on everyone, as some who hate us say that we do.

It seems to be fine for excerpts from the Quran to be studied in public schools, but just try to put anything from one of the gospels into the curriculum and the outrage (closely followed by lawsuits) is nearly instantaneous.

There is no rational explanation for the world’s intense fear of and hatred for Christ and Catholicism except to echo the words of Christ Himself:
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without cause’
. (John 15:18-25)

Sobran said it well: Christ makes people lose sleep in ways that others do not. His words and teachings touch a core that others never do. That the world bristles is a compliment.

Yes, they hated Him without cause—at least any rational cause. There must be a cause, but it is so irrational that I surmise it must be that Satan himself is interacting with our flesh. Satan hates Christ in a way that he doesn’t hate Muhammad or Luther. Christ is a true threat, so Satan rages; the world and flesh draw from this rage and fear.

You may be mad, or sad, or glad, but no one goes away from Jesus Christ unchanged or merely “informed.” His words have an authority that demands a response. The world seems to know this and thus bristles. Some love Him and some hate Him, but few are neutral.

Think I’m exaggerating? It seems to be fine for excerpts from the Quran to be studied in public schools, but just try to put anything from one of the gospels into the curriculum and the outrage (closely followed by lawsuits) is nearly instantaneous. The annual “Christmas war” now targets not only nativity scenes and Santa Claus (a secular remake of St. Nicholas, by the way) but even the colors red and green!

Could it be that Christ really is who He says He is: Lord and God? Could it be that it is His voice echoing in every conscience?

Sobran said it well: Christ makes people lose sleep in ways that others do not. His words and teachings touch a core that others never do. That the world bristles is a compliment. Jesus Christ must be taken seriously. You may be mad, or sad, or glad, but no one goes away from Jesus Christ unchanged or merely “informed.” His words have an authority that demands a response. The world seems to know this and thus bristles. Some love Him and some hate Him, but few are neutral.

This strange, irrational, excessive fear; this anger toward and even hatred of Christ attests to the truth of His claim to be the one whom we will either love or hate.

Why is this so? Could it be that Christ really is who He says He is: Lord and God? Could it be that it is His voice echoing in every conscience? This strange, irrational, excessive fear; this anger toward and even hatred of Christ attests to the truth of His claim to be the one whom we will either love or hate. One cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).

Shakespeare’s words don’t make anyone lose sleep; neither do Plato’s or Aristotle’s. Why is that?

To every secularist and atheist, I direct these questions: Why do you protest Christ and His Church so much? If we really are irrelevant, if our “day is over” and we are laughably outdated, then why the fear, anger, and protest? Is it that still, small voice in your conscience?

To every secularist and atheist, I direct these questions: Why do you protest Christ and His Church so much? Why do you exaggerate our power? If we really are irrelevant, if our “day is over” and we are laughably outdated, then why the fear, anger, and protest? Do our “myths” scare you? If they are mere myths, then why fear them? Why don’t you direct the same anger toward Buddha or Muhammad? Is it that still, small voice in your conscience?

What is it? Why your sleepless wrath?

Sobran observed the odd spectacle that there is greater intensity for Christ from His opponents than from His friends. So, while it is irksome, take the special hatred of the world toward Christ and His Church as a compliment.

Sobran observed the odd spectacle that there is greater intensity for Christ from His opponents than from His friends:
Sometimes I think the anti-Christian forces take Christ more seriously than most nominal Christians do … [Indeed] Such a strong and unique personality [as Christ had] could only meet strong and unique resistance. That is why Christians shouldn’t resent the resistance of those who refuse to celebrate his birth [and protest us doing so]. In their way, these people are his witnesses too. (Joseph Sobran in “Resisting Jesus” in the collection of his work, Subtracting Christianity, pp. 6-8)

So, while it is irksome, take the special hatred of the world toward Christ and His Church as a compliment. Somehow, we are viewed as a unique threat. Despite all the scandals, despite the timidity of our clergy and laity, we apparently still pose a threat. It must be Christ shining through in spite of us. Shine, Jesus, shine!

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Copyright @ 2019 by Msgr. Charles Pope. This article appeared in the daily blog post he writes for the Archdiocese of Washington.

Monsignor Charles Pope

Monsignor Charles Pope, a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., is the pastor of Holy Comforter – St. Cyprian Catholic Church in the nation’s capital. Known widely as an outstanding preacher and incisive writer, he is currently conducting a weekly Bible Study in the White House. Msgr. Pope writes a daily blog at the Archdiocese of Washington website.

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