Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday word, 12 May 2007

5Easter Saturday (12 May 2007) Ac 16. 1-10; Ps 100; Jn 15. 18-21
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Widening the Circle

The words of Jesus we heard are familiar, which may help us miss something important. Jesus called his disciples friends while never ignoring that slaves are not better than [the] master. The slave-master language rings a note of separation: we will never be identical to Jesus, and we will always be in his debt for revealing God to us by his living, dying and rising. Yet, our Master did not shy from calling us friends.

Friendship in the ancient world was a spiritual bond which allowed different people to share one orbit: welcomed in one another’s heart as well as home; and able to share much mutually. Even we carry the interests of our friends in our hearts the way we carry our own.

Jesus called his disciples friends, which signaled to them and to us, that they would carry on Jesus’ work in the world. Jesus trusts us, too, to continue his revealing and saving work in our corner of the world.

Human friendship brings different people together and binds them as one. How much more close does Jesus' friendship hold us both to Jesus and to one another!

Yet friends always remain different, even if they “share one soul,” to use an ancient Greek and well-known definition of friendship in the days of the early church.

That “one soul”--we can use “Jesus’ Spirit” for whom we pray more intently these days--does not erase friends’ differences. Jesus’ Spirit allows us to live interdependently with our Messiah. Jesus’ Spirit bequeaths to us Jesus’ mission of revealing and inviting others to him. Jesus’ Spirit encourages us when persecution for the name of Jesus falls on us. Jesus’ Spirit widens the circle of his friends, which we call the community of the church. While that doesn’t begin and end with us, it involves us in crucial ways because Jesus welcomes us as friends.
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