On yet another Maundy Thursday, I contemplate the Gospel reading said every year at services in all Catholic churches. Jesus, taking off his robe, washing the feet of his disciples, and telling them to do likewise (John 13). While I reflected on this last year (see April 2010 posts), I wanted this year to look at John 15.
Typically, Christians are most familiar with Jesus' teaching on being the vine, with us being the branches. What strikes me most is what happens after that lesson, which we read starting in verse 11:
"I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father." (John 15:11-15)
What prompted this thought was a song I sang at the Newman Center in West Chester, which I attended while visiting Alyssa on weekends. The song is called "We have been told", and I had one of the verses running through my head, which goes like this: "You are my friends, if you keep my commands. No longer slaves, I call you friends."
Imagine the apostles' possible surprise at this statement. Here, the teacher and master they had been following for three years, now turns to them and calls them his friends. What a table turner! Now, I'm not too familiar with rabbinical structures during the first century, but I have a hunch that no other teacher did that with their disciples. Jesus seeks more than just our blind obedience; he wants to know us intimately. He wants to be our friend, our best friend if you will. Thinking about it moves me, because it shows how great his love is.
How often do we fail in this regard? I'm sure many of us have had friends we have lost touch with or have not talked to for quite a while. Some of those people we no longer consider friends; others we can talk to them after some time like nothing has changed. I have people in my life that fall under both categories. However, Jesus wants to be that friend that we talk to every day and that we want to spend time with. I know I disappoint consistently and need to strive to be a better friend. What steps do you take to better your friendship?