Today's Gospel: John 15:12-17
To be someone’s friend is an exceptional privilege because friendship invites us into a deep and personal relationship with another person. In order to grow in that friendship, we must spend time with someone, share ourselves openly, and listen attentively. Friendship takes time and energy.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, “You are my friends.” He calls us friends because He has chosen us. Just like we choose the friends we want to spend time with and share openly with, Jesus chooses us. He wants a deep, personal relationship with us. But have we chosen Jesus to be our friend? Do we spend enough time with Him to cultivate a true friendship with Him?
On a recent retreat that I attended, the priest told us that the “essence of our whole spiritual life is to be better friends with God.” And how we become better friends with God is through prayer and meditation. On the retreat, we spent time meditating on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend. During meditation, we were encouraged to enter a conversation with the Lord, to tell Him what’s on our hearts, and to listen attentively to what He has to say. In this part of prayer, which is called the colloquy, we speak from the heart and are “real” with God. We share our sorrow, confusion, fear, joy, excitement—whatever is on our hearts. It also is a time to just be present to Jesus without words.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus defines friendship to mean the willingness “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” And He not only preaches this, He also exemplifies this when He suffers death on the Cross for you and me, His friends. Are we willing to lay down our lives for Jesus, for our family members, for our friends? When we truly love the Lord and one another, we can indeed imagine following Jesus’ example of friendship all the way to death. But even if it doesn’t require a literal sacrifice of our lives, we can probably think of countless little sacrifices we would make for those with whom we share a strong friendship.
When we grow in our friendship with God to the point that it is the essence of our spiritual life, we also will want to make little sacrifices for our friend, Jesus. We will increase the time we talk to Him, we will learn to recognize His voice, and we will grow more in love with Him.
How do you view your relationship with Jesus? Do you consider Jesus to be your friend? Do you speak to Him in prayer like you would a friend? If not, what can you do today that will help you grow closer to Him?
Lord Jesus, thank You for calling us “friend.” We love you and want to be a better friend to You. Thank You for laying down Your life for us. Help us to reflect on what we have done for You and what we can do for You in the future. May our friendship with You grow stronger every day. Amen.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Sarah Damm