REFLECTION FOR TODAY
May 7, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
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. Jn. 15:14-15
In our gospel reference today, Jesus makes a radical distinction between slaves and friends. A slave’s involvement is always limited. Slaves only work at what they are allowed or told to do. He calls his followers friends. With a close friend you share everything.
St Augustine speaking on friendship said “In this world two things are essential: life and friendship. Both should be highly prized, and we must not undervalue them. Life and friendship are nature’s gifts. God created us that we might exist and live: this is life. But if we are not to remain solitary, there must be friendship.”
“What a friend we have in Jesus” is a popular hymn that expresses the depth of true friendship based on trust and love. As Christians today what is our definition of friendship. Friendship for some people are ways of exploitation so, to some, Jesus’ definition of friendship may, at first glance, seem odd.
Jesus says that we are His friends only when we do what He commands us to do. Imagine saying that to one of your best friends. Such a statement would most likely be met with a laugh and dismissal as foolishness. So, is true friendship always based on obedience?
Obviously, the expectation that your friends obey you to win your friendship is not the basis of any authentic friendship. Jesus is the only one Who can base your friendship upon obedience to His holy will. Why? Because of the nature of what He commands you to do.
Jesus is pure Truth. What He wills is the perfection of love. Therefore, His statement that you are only His friend if you do what He commands you to do teaches that friendship is based on the truth. It’s based on love, goodness, kindness, selfless sacrifice, and self-giving. And it is all these truths that Jesus commands us to do. Therefore, Jesus is essentially telling us that His will alone provide the pathway to the friendship we desire to have with Him.
Regarding your friendship with others, each true friendship can only be based on that which God wills for friends. And, in that sense, you can “command” the will of God for your friendships. This means you are only willing to establish a friendship upon the truth. It means you are only willing to share a relationship based upon selfless, sacrificial, self-giving mercy, compassion, honesty, and love.
Reflect, today, upon your understanding of friendship. Begin with your friendship with God, but then also ponder your friendship with others. Do you love our Lord in the way that He commands? And as you ponder your friendship with others, examine whether each friendship also conforms to obedience to the will of God. If you can love God and others in conformity with the dictates of true love, then your friendships will produce an eternity of deep fulfilment.
My divine Lord, You call me to a friendship with You based only on the dictates of pure and holy love. I thank You for this command of love and accept this invitation. Help me, Lord, to continually deepen my friendship with You in accord with the truths of love and help me to base all my friendships only on the commands of this holy love. Jesus, I trust in You.