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(Part 76)


May 8, 2015
Today’s gospel: John 15:12-17

Jesus is our Master and we are all his servants or slaves. But Jesus says, “I no longer call you slaves .... I have called you friends” (v.15a,c). There is a profound difference between being a servant/slave and being a friend who is a servant. There are in fact those who overtly serve Jesus in the Church, but are actually the enemy within, subverting what is of value to Jesus. What does it mean that we are friends of Jesus? A friend is one who has met Christ in an intimate, profound and personal encounter, and in such intimacy gets to know Christ well. As such a friend begins to follow through and strives to live Christ, part of that life is service. Following are some aspects of serving Jesus as his friend.

First, we are his friends if we are those whom Jesus himself chooses, not just one who volunteers for service. “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you” (v.16a). There are many Church workers who serve according to what interests them, what gives them pleasure, what advances their own agenda or priorities. Such a one does service but is not necessarily a servant to Jesus. Thus our parishes are so busy, but why are we still losing Catholics? Perhaps we are not doing what is of critical importance to Jesus. If however we do what Jesus wants us to do, then we can “bear fruit that will remain” (v.16b).

Second, we are his friends if we obey what Jesus tells us to do. “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (v.14). Many who serve in the Church are doing what they want to do, but not necessarily what Jesus wants them to do. Many are so busy with activities but not necessarily what will bring souls into the Kingdom. Jesus tells us to evangelize. If we do not, then we cannot be considered his friends.

Third, we are his friends if we follow his very basic “commandment: love one another as I love you.” (v.12). Jesus came to redeem us all, and to restore us to communion with God. We were estranged, but now we are to be God’s friends. God so loved the world that He sent His very own Son. We are to have that same love for all. We are to ardently desire that they experience the salvation Jesus already won for them. We are to share Christ so that they will meet and know him and start to live in him. We are to be Christ to others.

Fourth, we are his friends if we strive to take on his mind and heart. Many today serve in the Church but do “not know what his master is doing.” (v.15b). They are slaves. But friends are those who begin to seek and to know the mind of God. This is done with intense prayer, with reading and study of the Bible, with undergoing formation, such that we learn from Jesus about the Father, “because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.” (v.15d).

Fifth, as we become truly attuned to the mind and heart of God, then we are not self-referential, we are willing to give our all, we ask only for things that will give glory to God and advance the spiritual welfare of His people. Then Jesus’ promise becomes a reality, “that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” (v.16c). The Father gives the Son what he asks, and as Jesus’ true friend, so too shall God give us what we ask. Our service after all is all for His glory.

Sixth, we are his friends if we are willing to give our all, just as he did, if one is willing “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (v.13). We do not put limits on our serving or giving. We consider others of more importance than ourselves. We are willing to deny ourselves so that others might be truly served.

Jesus says, “This I command you: love one another.” (v.17). We can truly practice love for others as we share the good news of salvation in Jesus with them. This happens when we are not just doing service for Jesus but being friends of Jesus.

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