Thursday, May 10, 2012

You are my friends if you do what I command you

The Psalmist says, "For your mercy towers to the heavens, and your faithfulness to the skies." What a beautiful image: to the heavens and to the skies, such is the mercy and the faithfulness of God. And why should he say such things about God? It isn't obvious to everyone that God's mercy is so great or that His faithfulness is so tall. They think that God is mean and that he is cruel, so they would never think to praise the Lord. So why is it that we praise the Lord?

You are my friend

The Lord says today "You are my friends… I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing." The Lord is our friend and He proves it to us by telling us about Himself. The mark of a true friendship is that you communicate with one another! You see, in sending the Lord Jesus, God has revealed Himself to His fullest extent. There is nothing more for God to say hasn't already been said in His Word. Jesus Christ is God's Word and the Word, being God is the fullest revelation of the Father. God speaks to us this Word even now. Though his body is taken up into Heaven, His revelation of the Father is brought down to us through the Scriptures. The Sacred Scriptures are the Lord's word, breathed out as a loving whisper to nourish us and sustain us here on earth. He also speaks to us through our Tradition. He can hear Him speaking in the homily to us through the priest as the Gospels are authoritatively proclaimed. We hear him at the moment of consecration saying "this is my body" and "this is my blood." The Lord speaks to us because he has claimed us as friends.

Love and obligation

Our friendship with the Lord, like any friendship, is built on love. The Lord has chosen us and loved us and died on the Cross for us and then rose from the dead so that we might have life with Him. He has given us ample reason to return his friendship and his love! And if we return his love, this naturally implies some obligations. In our natural relationships, if we love someone, we instinctively hate anything that is not good for them. How could you claim to love your spouse or your children if you don't hate any evil that befalls them? You couldn't. Loving someone entails defending them from harm! Now, while the Lord, Himself in His divinity and glorified humanity cannot suffer, he sees it as an evil when His many sons and his daughters do not love one another.

Therefore, he gives us the command: "Love one another as I love you." This law makes explicit what we should already know by nature though He raises it to a supernatural degree. The Law of Love is the Law of the Christian, and what does it entail? It commands us to love as He has loved us. How has he loved us? He laid down his life for us. Hence, Jesus follows up his command saying "No one has greater love that this, to lay down one's life for one's friend." Such a love is a supernatural love because no earthly good can be found in death. It is a love that entirely surpasses our understanding. The Lord Jesus Christ had this love for us, and He expects this love to reign in our lives.

"My heart is steadfast, O God; my heart is steadfast." It requires a steadfast love to be able to lay down one's life. It requires us to look to God and remember that "his mercy towers to the heavens and his faithfulness to the skies." For if His mercy is great and His faithfulness reaches to the skies, he will gives us a greater life than what we have laid down. The Lord will not be out done in generosity! Too great is His faithfulness and too great is His mercy to abandon us in death. No, the Lord promises us that if we do what he commands, we will be His friends. The friends of God, my brothers and sisters! The friends of God. That heavenly friendship is worth laying down one's life.

1 comment:

  1. I especially liked the comparisons to human relationships you offered to explain friendship with God and God defending us from harm through commandments. It's always consoling to be reminded that the Incarnation made divine relationships human.