6th Sunday of Easter. May 6, 2018
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; 1Jn 4:7-10; Jn 15:9-17
The cost of friendship with Christ
Have you ever had that experience on Facebook when you accept an invitation from someone to become your friend and then you begin to receive invitations from unknown people? You begin to see recommended pages on your Facebook feed page that you have no idea where they come from? Whether you want to or not, whether you agree with their views or lifestyle, you become somehow exposed to all the friends and activities of all those who are friends of your newly chosen friend. Becoming friends with someone on social media, we readily expose ourselves to some extent to the favorable or unfavorable friends of the person and their acceptable or unacceptable activities.
This does not spook us out but we are willing and ready to pay this price for our friendship on social media. But are we ready and willing to pay the same price for our friendship with Jesus Christ? Are we ready to become closely related to all those whom Jesus loved and died for without distinctions? Are we ready to be exposed to the same activities that Jesus is interested in and which really matter to Him?
What is this price to be paid for our friendship with Jesus Christ? In the first place, strictly speaking, there is nothing that we can do to earn our friendship with Jesus Christ or to repay Him for this friendship with us. He reminds us of this in today’s Gospel, “I have called you friends, because I have told you everything that I have heard from my Father.” We are not friends with Him because of something good and lovable in us or any of our great achievements. We are friends of Jesus simply because of His love that has freely chosen us, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.” The price of our friendship with Christ is not a burden to be borne or a debt to be settled but our loving and free response to the friendship that Jesus offers us.
On our part, this price of friendship with Christ involves the following:
- We journey relentlessly towards intimacy with the Father through a life of loving obedience and rejection of the spirit of rebellion in all its forms. Authentic friendship with Jesus leads to friendship with His Father, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” We strive for that intimacy with the Father by denying self and keeping His commandments, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.” Our friendship with Christ is illusory if we are compromising with sin in any form or if we are picking and choosing which of His commandments to keep and which to discard or to reinterpret according to our taste. Our firm choice to live in loving obedience to God always is the action that is pleasing to Jesus.
- We are ready to reflect to others the same self-sacrificing love of Christ that we have experienced, “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” We do not love others for what we can get or obtain from them but to bring divine goodness to others through our sacrifices. In the words of St. John, “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loves us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins.” We too love others first, always, and in a way that allows us to make sacrifices for their eternal and temporal good.
- We do not pick and choose whom we should love and sacrifice for. This is the lesson that St. Peter learned in today’s First Reading when he sees the sincere spirit of religion in the pagan Cornelius’ family and their openness to Jesus and His Spirit. Our God is not choosy or discriminating in His love for His people, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.” Our God pours the gifts of His Spirit to those who embrace friendship with His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ died for all of humanity and desires that His Spirit fills all hearts and make all His friends. As friends of Jesus who possess His Spirit in us from the moment of Baptism, we cannot discriminate or be partial in our love but we must reflect to all that universal and constant love that we have received from Jesus.
- Lastly, as friends of Jesus, we find our joy in Jesus and in following His own way of loving, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in your and your joy might be complete.” Friends find joy in the same things and in the same manner. Like Jesus who found His joy in His loving obedience to the Father and in laying down His life for us, we too find our true joy by loving the Father and in making sacrifices for the eternal good of others. We cannot be friends of Jesus if our hope for joy is apart from Him and in the things and pleasures of this world.
Our Lord Jesus Christ continues to reveal Himself gratuitously to us today to make us His intimate friends. But are we willing to pay the price of friendship with Christ? How seriously do we take our pilgrimage of intimacy with the Father? How are we striving to overcome the spirit of rebellion in us and in the world today? How are we loving others in a life-giving way without being fixated on what is in it for us? Where is the spirit of discrimination and partiality sneaking into our relationships so that we only love those who are likeable or beneficial to us? How are we searching for joys in the world outside Christ and our participation in His selfless love for others?
To be friends of Jesus is to be friends of those whom He loves, including His own Mother, Mary. We cannot claim to be friends of Jesus while having nothing but contempt or indifference to Mary His Mother who gave birth to Him, nourished Him and brought Him to matured manhood so that He can die for us and make us friends of God.
“As the Father has loved me, so I love you.” The Father loved Jesus by sending Him into this world through the womb of the Virgin Mary and her faith-filled response to the divine will at the Annunciation. Jesus loves us by giving us the same Mary as our Mother as He was dying on the cross, “Behold your mother.” Taking Mary as our Mother too, loving her, depending on her prayers and support, and obeying her is part of the joyful price of being Jesus’ friends.
On her part, Mary leads us to deeper friendship with Jesus Christ and helps us to readily accept and respond to His friendship. As the beloved daughter of the Father, she leads us to intimacy with God by doing His will always. As the faithful disciple who concurred with the divine plan of the crucifixion of her only son for the world’s salvation, she will help us too to lay down our lives for others. As mother of all the redeemed who have the life-blood of her Son in their hearts, Mary helps us to love others with a universal and constant love. As the one who loved selflessly and proclaimed, “My soul rejoices in God my savior,” who else but Mary can better lead us to seek for the joy of the Lord through selfless love for others?
Jesus reveals Himself again to us through His own flesh and blood in today’s Eucharist, the flesh and blood that He willed to take from no other person but the Blessed Virgin Mary. With Mary and through her, we can surely be true friends with Christ, willingly pay the price of our friendship with Him by reflecting His universal and constant love to all who are dear to Him. This is how the joy of Christ will be in us and our joy will be complete.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!