Readings for May 13, Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 ; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17
This weekend’s second reading from the first letter of John begins: “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God and he who loves is born of God and knows God.” John’s Gospel begins: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love … so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full.”
How similar the words, how similar the message from these two Scripture readings. These words are quite simple and easy to both read and say; however, at times, can be very difficult and challenging to live out. They remind me of the frequently used cliché “actions speak louder than words” as well as St. Francis of Assisi’s directive to his followers “Preach the Gospel often and when necessary use words.”
People are an important part of our lives. Throughout our lifetime we will meet and interact with many individuals some of whom we will call acquaintances, others we will refer to as
friends, and still others we proudly label best friends. Each category carries its own criteria and we are very careful and diligent to assign individuals correctly. In fact, at times, we may reflect on these individuals and wonder why these friendships ever began (who chose whom) and how some continued to deepen over time.
In today’s Gospel, John recounts for us Jesus’ perspective of and purpose for friendship with Jesus’ words to his disciples then and each of us today: “You did not choose me, but I chose you. I call you friends for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
You see, Jesus shows no partiality here, establishes no conditions, nor requires specific credentials to be his friend. Rather, he invites and welcomes all into an intimate relationship with him nurtured only with his unconditional love. He makes only one request, has only one expectation with his words: “This I command you, to love one another.”
From the Book of Sirach we read: “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth. A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds. For he who fears God behaves accordingly and his friend will be like himself.”
Jesus is that faithful friend. Do we truly know him? Do we really trust and believe that He desires friendship with us? Do we clearly realize how important Jesus can be in our lives? At baptism, Jesus began a relationship, a unique friendship with each of us. Our yes to his invitation to discipleship along with the directive to receive the light of Christ and keep it burning brightly throughout our earthly journey affirms that Jesus chose us. Jesus knows what each of us is capable of becoming; moreover, his love, if we allow it to, will transform us to become more like him — patient, compassionate, understanding and most importantly, forgiving. You see, friendship with Jesus goes beyond accountability and obedience because it is through, in, and with his love that we find peace, comfort, and joy.
Very simply put, Jesus demonstrated throughout his ministry that true love is costly, that true friendship never influenced by time, circumstances, or distance. Jesus, our true friend, accepts us as we are and unconditionally believes in us. Calvary demonstrated and affirmed his true friendship for each of us: No greater sacrifice; no greater purpose; no greater example.
The familiar Master Card TV commercial concludes with the words “some things are priceless.” The friendship Jesus offers each of us is both perfect and priceless. Our choice is a simple one. Will we choose to carry the Master’s card where there are no expiration dates and no cancellation fears? If we do so we become members for life, eternal life. More importantly, we can more easily embrace and carry out Jesus’ command to both love others and abide in his love so that his joy may be in each of us and our joy may be full.
Deacon Joseph Cilia ministers at Church of the Holy Child in Wilmington.