2021 6th Sunday of Easter (B)
What Jesus says in today’s gospel should astonish us. He begins by saying: “As the Father has loved me so I have loved you.” I don’t know how to explain that, even though it is self-explanatory; I don’t have the words to fully express the significance of these words. But if we really understand them and believe them then they are life changing: to know that Jesus loves us with a divine love. That is an awesome statement. But there’s more: “Love one another” says Jesus “as I have loved you.”
This too should astonish. Love is the most powerful force in the world. There’s no limit to it. It’s what makes the world go round. People will sacrifice their lives for love. I will never forget a tragic incident near to where I lived in south London. A mother was crossing the road with her child, they got to the other side but then the child noticed it had dropped its teddy bear in the middle of the busy road. Being a child it just ran back into the road to pick up the bear. The mother could see the traffic, but she instinctively wanted to protect her child, and ran into the path of a lorry; both she and her child were killed. She died out of love for her child. It’s an experience I’ve never forgotten: the mother gave her life in an attempt to save her child’s. And this is what Christ did: he gave his life, not just for this child but for everyone: child, mother, father, good people as well as bad. And he says to us that we are to love others as he has loved them. That’s a tall order, but love knows no limits.
The final point that might astonish you is when Christ says, “I call you friends.” Maybe it won’t astonish but I don’t think it’s easy for many to believe. We are brought up to worship Christ, to genuflect before him in the tabernacle. We revere and respect him in the blessed sacrament, and this is right. But Christ wants more than this; he wants to relate to us as a friend. Think about that. Think about a good friend. He or she is someone you trust, you can say anything to them and you know it won’t go any further; a good friend listens to you; a good friend makes you feel better just because they are there; you know you can turn to them when you are in need. With a good friend you can be yourself; you don’t have to pretend, to be someone else. Well can you imagine Christ as such a friend? That is what he wants to be. He wants to be your friend; can you let him be that?
Good friends can look each other in the eye and know what the other is thinking or feeling. It’s the same with Christ. He knows you; look him in the eye and tell him things, as you would a friend. Or just be with him. Good friends don’t need to talk all the time, they can be happy just to be in each other’s company. Jesus wants to be with you as your friend; you very special friend. What a difference this would make to our lives if we could believe this.