Friday, May 15, 2020

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

For me, one of the most painful aspects of this experience of self quarantine is the inability to see friends. Zoom and FaceTime help but they can never be substitutes. We all need to be with friends and loved ones “physically”, person to person, in the flesh. We were born this way. But just having my friends, talking over the phone and reflecting on my memories with them that no pandemic can destroy, has been calming and healing. My friends connect me to life, even if I can’t be with them physically.

In the gospel, Jesus calls the apostles his friends, altering the very nature of their relationship. He is not just a teacher but a friend, creating a beautiful and deep intimacy. This is exactly the God Jesus revealed: an intimate friend!!! As St. Teresa of Avila teaches: in prayer, talk to God, Jesus, as a friend. Friends trust each other, are loyal to each other, do not have secrets ( for the most part), forgive hurts, sacrifice. That last word is the absolute key to a solid friendship, the ability and desire to sacrifice, even one's life, for a friend.

Jesus is our hidden friend who NEVER leaves us, is always present, is our faithful companion, knows us better than we know ourselves (after all, He’s God), always forgives, and wants us to shine. Most importantly, Jesus, as our closest and deepest friend, wants to spend time with us. And this is where we usually fall short, pushing this most important of friendships on the back burner.

Prayer is the ONLY way to personally, and without mediation, connect with Jesus. Split infinitives are just fine, all you English majors!! Actually, they are now considered standard English. A bit of a diversion...

Pray to Jesus, your closest and dearest friend. He sacrificed his life out of love for you and he asks the same in return. We “sacrifice” for our friend jesus when we keep our relationship with him in the front burner; when we live our lives according to the beatitudes he taught; when we see that his closest friends are our enemies; when we don’t just use words of gospel and teaching but act on them. We “lay down our lives” when we have to let go of long term friendships that have become impossible to maintain. Letting go of a friend, losing a friendship, is much like experiencing a death that can shake one to the core. Our friendship with Jesus may ask this of us.
I hope and pray that all of you may use this time to get to know better the best friend you will ever have.

Fr. Frank