Saturday 5/20/17 They hated me first

(Helgi Hall 2009 Wikicommons)

They called themselves The Group.

In today’s parlance, they were a clique of “mean girls,” who coordinated their wardrobes, hairstyles and social activities with military precision. They also turned on one another with alarming regularity.

At the center of this organization was the ringleader, a five-star general type from whom all orders came. No one was exactly sure how she became the Queen Bee, but somewhere along the line she got the memo that she was more important than everyone else and no one ever mounted a coup to usurp her power. At her right hand was her steadfast advisor – and the only person whose opinion the Queen actually valued. She was the one person who seemed to escape the Queen’s scorn and who was genuinely liked by peer groups other than her own. Most suspect she could overthrow the existing power structure if she really wanted to, but for whatever reason she doesn’t. This made her both interesting and a bit puzzling all at the same time.

Beyond that were about eight other self-appointed popular people who claimed to be best friends and who jockeyed for position based on the special gifts they brought to the table. The Queen would use and lose these girls at will and yet they were so dependent on her benevolence, they would endure the abuse and consistently come back for more.

At one time I was close to the Queen. I belonged to her world. It began when she invited herself over to my house one afternoon, counted my Barbies and after determining my collection to be adequate; declared we could be friends. We hung out for about three years until another pal informed me I was being played and I opted to back off. My decision made me the target of harassment by the Queen and her worker bees and also the first person Group members typically turned to when they were on the outs.

After all, they hated me first.

I recall one incident, during the sixth grade in which the members of this clique decided to kick someone out of their club. It was during rehearsals for an all-school Mass that they wrote their intention down and passed the missive along the pew affixing their signatures to it as if it were the Declaration of Independence. When the object of their pronouncement got the news, she sat at my lunch table sobbing over the turn of events, contemplating what she could have done to fall out of favor and vowing never to speak to any of them again.

“You’re my best friend now,” she assured me.

Her words were a piecrust promise – easily made and easily broken. A few days later all was forgiven, she was be back in the fold and the following week, someone else would take her place. As they rotated members throughout the school year, the girls never caught on to the cycle of persecution, didn’t know how to break it and naively believed that they could avoid the Queen’s wrath.

Jesus talks about the cycle of persecution in today’s Gospel, but instead of allowing ourselves to get run over by it, He calls us to be aware of it and to understand what we are getting into by being His followers. He’s the friend who points out the obvious. By bucking the world or “the group” to be the children of God, we are not victims. We are rebels. It may not be popular, but it is powerful. We may sit by ourselves at the lunch table; suffer slings and arrows for our decision and attract fair-weather friends when they experience times of trial but we are not alone. The world hated Him first. We don’t belong to the world. We belong to Him.

And that’s a “Group” worth being part of.

Today’s readings for Mass: ACTS 6: 1-10; PS 100 B-2,3,5; JN 15: 8-21

About the Author

Julie Young is an award-winning writer and author from Indianapolis, Indiana in the USA, whose work has been seen in Today’s Catholic Teacher, The Catholic Moment, and National Catholic Reporter. She is the author of nine books including: A Belief in Providence: A Life of Saint Theodora Guerin, The CYO in Indianapolis and Central Indiana and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Catholicism. She is a graduate of Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis and holds degrees in writing and education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She can be found online at

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  1. This was a terrific reflection. Reminds me of an oldie song “The In-Crowd”. We need to belong to God’s In-crowd.

  2. Julie
    I so look forward to Saturday’s and reading your thoughts and words. Thank you

  3. Hey Julie,

    Excellent analogy.

    I suppose my questions to you would be in today’s world, do you personally feel hated? And if so, who are “they”? And is it because you are Catholic? The root of my questions is why would anyone hate you for your belief?


  4. A simple message delivered via an analogy that most would understand if not have personally experienced in a similar fashion. Thank you.

  5. This is so relatable and well written. We can all remember trying to be in the “in crowd”, the cool lunch table, getting invited to the right parties, etc. We hunger to belong to these different groups but as you state, it’s most important that we understand we belong to him.

  6. Your analogy hit the nail on the head. While Jesus exhibited unrelenting love He was the ultimate rebel as it related to the norms of the day and what made people acceptable, cool, and admired, socially, spiritually, and politically, but in the end is self serving and hurts others. He was not afraid to go against the grain and show us a new and better way. To the extent we can discern and do this we will endure the same backlash and even suffering at times as we choose to be His followers, but discernment often becomes the problem. You began seeing it early and I’m sure have experienced much more as you’ve gone through life. Thanks for the clear and simple example and encouragement to keep discerning.

  7. Being a part of the ‘popular’ group anywhere will always be an easy ride. Do what the others do, don’t go against the tide and you’ll be okay. This is akin to following the herd. But a select few (like the disciples) who go against the majority belief, the true followers of Christ who practice His teachings will always ruffle someone’s feathers. Whether it is pro-life, believing the sacrament of matrimony is between a man and woman and many other issues will always be defied. So, yes, we will always be hated for our personal belief… our Catholic belief… beliefs that we stand by because we chose to follow Christ.

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