I CALL YOU FRIENDS
SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
Today’s gospel is the continuation of the passage we read last Sunday. The Lord is the vine, we are the braches. We need to be united with Christ, so that his life may reach us. This unity, expressed by the word “abide”, in today’s text is explained with the image of friendship.
The words were spoken by Jesus during the Last Supper: that was the final moment he could enjoy as a free man, before his passion, together with his new family, the Apostles. The Master knew that the disciples were sad because of what he disclosed to them about his fate; he eases their pain by telling them: “You are my friends”. He tells them they are not servants, assistants, “motor boys”, apprentices, but friends. We all know, there are no secrets among friends. We tell our friends things we do not tell anybody else. They are like twin-brothers or twin-sisters to us. Jesus told his apostles everything about himself, to the extent that whoever sees him, sees his Father.
In that terrible night, Christ gives us the real meaning of his coming among us: “That my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full”.
Joy and friendship! This is the core of our religion. It is not about knowing all the Christian doctrine, or reaching righteousness; it is about being happy and deepening my friendship with Jesus.
When we see two friends, or a group of friends, we notice that they tend to talk about similar topics, wear similar clothes, have the same timetable. They become more and more similar to each other. They always do those things that make their friends happy. The same with Jesus: he speaks about observing the commandments, because they are the practical way to become like him.
A friend will always be at your side, even when things are rough. “Moni don don, padi don don!” (when money is finished, friendship also finishes). Instead, a friend would donate his life for his friend, just like Jesus did.
Also Saint Romero did the same: this month the Church will declare him a Saint, though he was already canonized immediately after his martyrdom by all the oppressed of the world. We had to wait for a pope from Latin America to declare him a model for all the Christians and a real Good Shepherd.
He was murdered as he was celebrating the holy Mass: his blood was mingled with the Blood of Christ in the chalice. This is the season of Easter; Saint Romero, knowing he was going to be killed, said “If I die, I will rise again in my people”.
He dedicated his life to become the voice of the oppressed, the poor. In his position as Archbishop, he could have focused only on his career and prestige. But his mind and heart were with his suffering fellow citizens. He laid down his life for his sheep. He did not hide or run away.
Saint Oscar Romero, pray for us.