Sunday, May 13, 2012
A Little Something Extra...Sixth Sunday of Easter
Friendship with Jesus
In today's Gospel from John 15:9-17, Jesus tells His apostles, and by extension all of us, that He no longer calls them, or us, slaves but friends.
This is part of Jesus' farewell speech. He is about to become living proof, dying proof, of His assertion that “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for his friends.” But He has a lot that He needs to tell His apostles first, especially about His loving relationship with them.
The Greek word for friends, philoi, suggests people who are beloved, dear ones, intimates, and associates. The Greek word for slaves, douloi, on the other hand, refers to people who belong to the lowest class of servants, those whose wills are not their own.
Jesus, then, is raising His followers to a new level, a new status, a friendship that is based on love and knowledge.
First, Jesus makes it quite clear that if we are to remain in an intimate relationship with Him, we must keep His commandments. Actually, He sets out just one commandment here, the most important one, the one that encompasses all others: “This is My commandment: love one another as I love you” (verse 12). This is so important that Jesus repeats it a few verses later: “This I command you: love one another” (verse 17).
So being friends with Jesus, living in an intimate relationship with Him, isn't just about us and Jesus. It's about us and Jesus and everyone else. Our friendship with Jesus, the love we share with Him, must pour out onto other people. It must overflow like a bubbling spring. If a spring doesn't move and flow, it gets stale and stagnant, but if it bubbles out of itself, it is constantly refreshed and clear. Our friendship with Jesus is like that. It is renewed and refreshed when we share Jesus' love with those around us.
Second, our friendship with Jesus provides us with knowledge. Jesus says that He calls us friends rather than slaves because slaves do not know what their master is doing. This implies, of course, that we do know what Jesus is doing. The apostles were likely skeptical about this when they first heard those words. They probably thought that they had no idea what Jesus was doing, but they did. He was telling them. He had been telling them all along about His kingdom, His love, His sacrifice, and His imminent resurrection.
We also know what Jesus is doing. Not all the time, of course. Do we know even everything our earthly friends are doing all the time? But we do know Jesus' plan. He has told us how He has come to save us from our sins and give us eternal life. We have Divine Revelation (that is, Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition). We have the Church's teaching and the moral law. We hear Jesus' voice in our hearts through the events of our lives, through those around us, and as we pray and read. We may not know all the details, but we know what Jesus is doing. He has chosen us as His friends, and He wants us all to be with Him in Heaven forever.
Take some time today to meditate on your friendship with Jesus and the love and knowledge it brings.