Reflections

Friday in the 5th Week of Easter, May 7, 2021

YOU ARE MY FRIENDS
Introduction
Fraternal love among Christians, but also love of all people for one another, without boundaries or reservations is inseparable from friendship with God. Both loves are in fact one. For Christians, human relations have a religious content and express a religious relation. For sure, we can and must love God in himself. But we experience God when our love, like his, is liberal and without calculation, oriented towards people in their otherness. Such a love converts us, that is, turns us to God and to others, overcomes selfishness, forgives and shares. It recognizes the sensitivities and respects the backgrounds of others; see today’s first reading, Jews and Christians recognizing one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. This is Christian love in action.
 
Opening Prayer
Lord our God, love is your name
and you have revealed all its depth
when you sent your only Son into the world
and let him be the sacrifice that took our sins away.
Through Jesus, who calls us his friends,
make our love as strong as life and death;
let it always have the last word in us
and be given for free, like yours.
May we always remain in your love
and love one another as Jesus has loved us,
he who is our Lord, for ever and ever. Amen!
 
1 Reading: ACTS 15:22-31
The Apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole Church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. This is the letter delivered by them: “The Apostles and the presbyters, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.'” And so they were sent on their journey. Upon their arrival in Antioch they called the assembly together and delivered the letter. When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation.
 
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 57:8-9, 10 AND 12
R. (10a) I will give you thanks among the peoples, O Lord. or: Alleluia.
 
My heart is steadfast, O God; my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and chant praise.
Awake, O my soul; awake, lyre and harp!
I will wake the dawn. R.
 
I will give thanks to you among the peoples, O LORD,
I will chant your praise among the nations.
For your mercy towers to the heavens,
and your faithfulness to the skies.
Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
above all the earth be your glory! R.
 
Alleluia: JOHN 15:15B
Alleluia, alleluia.
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
For I have made known to you all that the Father has told me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 
Gospel: 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.”
 
Commentary
When a church is named, it is often after a sainted person whose life places in relief one or more aspects of Christ’s teaching.
Or it may be named for Christ himself under one of his many tides. Therefore, it is more than a little surprising that we do not meet a church named for “Jesus, our friend.” In today’s Gospel, Jesus clearly designates himself as our friend, the clear proof of which was his willingness to lay down his life for us.
One of the main thrusts of the Johannine teaching is to underscore Jesus’ initiatives in our regard. We are chosen; we are friends. Our relationship now is one of friendship, not slavery; it is through his presence that we now bear fruit. And it was for our sake that he laid down his life.
Perhaps the absence of the tide of Jesus as friend is due to the fact that friendship in modem parlance has lost much of its force. We use it today even of people who may be no more than acquaintances, whereas true friendship must be tested and proven. Christ is the greatest example of such true friendship.
When the Jerusalem assembly had completed its work, a delegation was commissioned to bring its decision to the broader church. Judas and Silas accompany Paul and Barnabas to bring the decision to Antioch.
The decision regarding freedom from the law was to have widespread consequences. It meant that Gentile Christians did not have to pass through the portals of Judaism in coming to Christ.
The way to Christ is a one-way route. It is not complicated even though it sets a high standard. It is a loving response to the One who calls us friends and walks with us on our journey.
 
Intercessions
– That the Church may be deeply aware, that what matters to God is not our language or culture or face, but that his friends are those who learn to love, we pray:
– That we may know that we, God’s servants, are more than servants, for we belong to his household and are his friends, we pray:
– That we may know that we could not choose and love God, but that he has chosen and loved us, we pray:
 
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord, our God, loving Father,
your love appeared with a human face
in your Son, Jesus Christ.
He showed all the depth of your love and his
by laying down his life for us, his friends.
As he gives himself to us as the bread of life,
may he be our food
on the road of life and of love,
not only when it is easy to love
but also when it is hard to be faithful
and when love demands self-forgetting sacrifice.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen!
 
Prayer after Communion
Our loving God,
in this Eucharistic celebration
you have given us new proof of your love
by giving us your Son and his Spirit.
Jesus has strengthened our love.
Accept our thanks
and bring out the best in us,
that we may bear rich fruit
of faithful, reliable love.
Let your Holy Spirit unite us
to build community with one another
and to live in your love and joy,
now and for ever. Amen!
 
Blessing
Just imagine! Today, Jesus has called us his friends and asked us to remain in his love. Let us do all we can to put this into practice, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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