A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 15:12-17
Jesus said to his disciples: "This is my commandment : love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another ."
REFLECTION: You are my friends, if you do what I command you--love one another
Jesus is our personal friend. The apostles found their friendship in Jesus--spending time together, eating with him, learning from Jesus, sharing their joys and sorrows, speaking with and questioning with confidence, fishing, mending nets and sharing fellowship. Jesus was with his apostles teaching them how to extend his love to others whom they met on the roads or in the towns.
How humbling for us that Jesus chose us to be his friends? What absurdity that he would look at us and want to spend eternity with us, sharing his love, when we are so unworthy. The only demand that Jesus makes of this friendship is that we do what he commands--to love on another.
To know Jesus personally is to know God. To love Jesus is to love God and Jesus taught us to love one another, to share our selves with others. God has chosen to love us as He loves his son with a bond of affection, esteem, joy and total giving of self. And Jesus obeyed his commands.
Jesus sought and encouraged the friendship of all he met . He made conversation to get to the bottom of their souls and fill them with love. Apart from his infinite love for all men, he openly showed his friendship with particular people. He still referred to Judas as his friend as he was being betrayed by him. Jesus asks Peter, "Are you my friend? Can I rely on you to feed my sheep?" The sisters of Lazarus called out to Jesus that his friend Lazarus was sick.
Christ is our companion and friend and though we don't physically see him, he fills our hearts daily, and makes us yearn for him--as a lover yearns for his beloved. As a friend, Jesus wants us to share our burdens with him, he promises rest. He promises glory for all eternity.
Most important, Jesus is the friend who never betrays. He is always ready to hear us, speak to us, comfort us or just sit with us. He never changes and his word is golden and so loyal. He partakes in our joys and sorrows. He always helps, consoles and encourages. He probably would play tag with us, bicycle with us and sit and watch the many butterflies in the fields with us.
Our friendship with Jesus begins with Him seeking us, our birth and growth in the friendship is through prayer and reception of the sacraments.
A faithful friend is loyal, a protector, and a treasure . We are all seeking that type of friendship in humans while Jesus offered it to us before we were created .
We know who someone is when we spend time with them. Our daily conversation and friendship with Jesus increases our capacity of knowing him as a friend. Praying, reading the scriptures, talking with Mary , Jesus and the saints helps us understand people and increases our joy in being with people.
True friendship is without self interest. As Jesus sacrificed his life for us, we, too, can define our friendship with him and others as a personal sacrifice for the well being of others. Trust arises from true friendship; however, for there to be a true friendship, though, the good and love will have to be mutual.
A good friend stays with you in good and bad, never betrays you, never speaks badly of you, and never allows others to criticize you. Jesus who went about doing good is our model. God is our personal friend and He asks us to love as He loves--wholeheartedly without reserve, full of mercy, kindness and forgiveness. If we follow His love He will transform us and then we will know His peace, joy, patience, kindness and goodness.
Dearest Lord, fill us with your love. Show us how to abandon ourselves to you and how to serve our family, friends and strangers. May we, our PAPA family, be worthy to be called your friends as were the apostles and Lazarus.
You made us in love. Give us the grace to find such love in others, to have such friends to be willing to die for them. Help us, dear Lord, because as we love as you have loved us,
we will bear fruit that will last for eternity. Amen