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Marriage: A Gospel for the World
Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter
(Optional Memorial of Saint Bernardine of Siena, Priest)
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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I love you. Knowing that you created me in your image and likeness and that you call me to share in your life gives my life meaning and purpose. In you, I find my joy and my peace. I believe in you. I believe that you know me and want me to know you in and through the realities of my life. Knowing that you are always with me gives me hope. You are always working for my good. In this prayer time, Lord, I ask that you help me learn from your example of availability and attentiveness, so that I can better love those you have placed in my life.
- I Call You Friends: Friends share their lives with one another. Here Jesus summarized what the disciples had experienced in their travels with him: he called them friends. He shared everything the Father told him and was preparing to lay down his life for them. And this is what he wants from us. He desires our personal friendship, which entails reciprocity. True friendship is mutual. He has revealed and given himself to us totally, and now he wants us to give ourselves to him by following his commandments and loving one another, even if it requires sacrifice. Intimacy with Christ requires committing ourselves to him, not just in words but in actions.
- I Chose You: Sometimes it seems that our relationship with Christ begins in our decision to follow him, but we can only love Christ because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Just as he chose the disciples, he chooses us to be his friends. He calls us by name. Just as his disciples came to know Jesus as they walked and worked with him, so we can come to know Jesus in the experience of living our daily lives with him. The Second Vatican Council taught, “Laymen should make such a use of these (spiritual) helps that, while meeting their human obligations in the ordinary conditions of life, they do not separate their union with Christ from their ordinary life; but through the very performance of their tasks, which are God’s will for them, actually promote the growth of their union with him” (Apostolicam Actuositatem 4). We encounter the Lord in those things that make up our everyday life. Do we see a separation between daily life and our life of faith?
- To Bear Fruit: Jesus calls us to live a life of holiness not only for our own sake; we are called to bear fruit. He asks us to share in his ongoing mission to spread the Good News throughout the world: “(L)ay people as well are personally called by the Lord, from whom they receive a mission on behalf of the Church and the world” (Christifideles Laici 2). Indeed, “The fundamental objective of the formation of the lay faithful is an ever-clearer discovery of one’s vocation and the ever-greater willingness to live it so as to fulfill one’s mission (Christifideles Laici 58). And because friends share the things they value, as Christians we desire to share the Lord’s goodness with those whom we care for; we want to introduce them to Jesus, our friend.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I have often heard people speak of their friendship with you, but just as often I’ve heard people express surprise when invited to think of you that way. Lord, I want to know you as a true friend. I want to share the ins and outs of my life, my joys and sorrow. I want to live my day with you by my side, sharing with you whatever it is that I am doing. Give me the confidence that everything that matters to me matters to you, and form my heart so that everything that matters to you matters to me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will seek to know what things I can do to enhance my friendship with you, and I will find a way to incorporate that into my daily life.
For Further Reflection: Consider the closeness captured in this image of St. John the Evangelist (“The Beloved Disciple”). Reflect on what it would be like to lean on Christ in this way. https://csjohn.org/john-the-beloved-disciple/#
Janet McLaughlin and her husband Chris live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.