Acts 1:15-17, 20-26
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you
and your joy might be complete.
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.”
Good News Reflection: Friendship with God
Servanthood is an essential part of true Christian living. Jesus emphasized it during the Last Supper, saying that he came not to be served, but to serve, and that likewise, in following him, we should serve one another. Why? Because service is an act of true love. In today’s Gospel reading, he describes love as the ultimate gift of service: laying down one’s life for one’s friends.
As he has loved us, so we should love others. He has served us by explaining the truths of God’s kingdom. He has served us by lifting up the lowly. He has served us by answering our prayers. He has served us by taking the blame for our sins. He has served us by making sacrifices.
To remain in his love, he says, we have to love as he loves, even to the point of making sacrifices for one another. Loving others is not always convenient or pleasant. Loving others does not always fit into our agendas. But the more difficult it is, the more like Jesus we become — that is, if we choose the path of love.
We love others when we explain the truths of God’s kingdom, not as a way to condemn them but to offer them healing and hope. We love others when we lift up the lowly, reaching out to the marginalized and the under-served. We love others by being available for Jesus to answer their prayers through us. We love others by doing good to those who sin against us. We love others by making personal sacrifices when Jesus says, “Follow Me to the Cross.”
Sometimes we do acts of love more out of love for God than love for the person we’re serving. If so, are we truly loving God? Or are we merely being the obedient slaves of a kind Master? In his parables, Jesus often referred to believers as “servants” of the Kingdom. So why does he say in verse 15 that he wants us to be his friends instead of slaves? Is he contradicting himself?
Not at all! A servant of God’s Kingdom can be either a slave or a friend. Friends serve each other because they care, which comes from genuine love. Slaves serve out of obedience, which comes from a sense of duty and obligation and the fear of punishment if they fail.
Are you obeying God as his slave or as his friend? One clue to the answer is whether or not you complain about the things you do for love. Jesus never grumbled about the long hours he worked helping people. He never complained about the Pharisees. He never told the Apostles that the Father wasn’t being fair in what he asked of him.
How strong is your friendship with God? How would you define it? He defines it by how you treat his friends.
How can I thank You, Jesus, for choosing me? Why have You chosen me? You are Infinite Mercy reaching those most in need! Thank You, Lord, for Your healing love! Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica