Jesus’ Friends

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The WORD in other words (2023) by Fr Raymund Festin SVD – Rome

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time – A

It is said that a true friend will be there for you no matter what happens. 

“When the night has come, and the land is dark; and the moon is the only light we see . . . I won’t be afraid . . . Just as long as you stand, stand by me,” so goes an old, lovely song. 

Such is the beauty of human friendship that St. Thomas Aquinas is moved to affirm that “there is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”

The Book of the Ecclesiastes 6:14 says that “a faithful friend is a sure shelter, whoever finds one has found a rare treasure.”

Jesus cherishes the gift of friendship. When his hour of suffering came, he elevated his relationship with his disciples to the level of friendship: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you” (Jn. 15:15).

And: “Greater love has no one than this, that he/she lay down his/her life for his/her friends” (Jn. 15.15).

From the perspective of human friendship, we can perhaps better understand Jesus’ words in the Gospel this Sunday: “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.” (Mt 10: 32)

It is as if Jesus is telling his disciples that anyone who stands by him in good and bad times is a true friend, and he will, in turn, stand by them no matter what happens.

But how do we stand by Jesus—or how do we prove we are his friends—when “the night has come, and the land is dark?”

Jesus says: “You are my friend if you do what I command you.” (Jn 15:14)

In other words, it is by our word and action that we can show we are Jesus’ friends. That is how we abide in Jesus in the indissoluble bond of friendship. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (Jn. 15: 5), He tells us.

Yes, indeed, whoever finds a true friend has found a rare treasure—much more so if that friend is Jesus, who will never let us down.

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