Scholars will remind us that in John’s Gospel, friendship is the ultimate description of what it means to be a disciple and the model he proposes for our relationships with each other.” “I no longer call you servants,” Jesus will say to his disciples, “rather now I call you friends, for I have made known to you everything, everything that I have heard from my Father.” Everything the Father has and is belongs to Jesus. And he tells us that he wants to give it all to us; this everything of God’s love for us. All he asks is that we stay, remain in his love; remain in him and allow his words to remain in us, to become the essence of who we are and how we act. Staying with him, we will take on his mind and learn how to love again. True friendship takes time. Just remaining is so essential, just to stay, in order to grow in confidence and familiarity with the mystery of who Jesus is. Staying with him we can begin to normalize the mystery of who Jesus is - totally Other and always totally ordinary.
Ultimately it is in and through the wounded and risen Christ that this friendship becomes real, for here we see and understand the depth of his desire to share everything with us. This everything of the Father’s love for us is unambiguously expressed in the self-offering of Jesus on the cross, there in his disfigured humanity. It is there best of all, in this transparency of God’s self-forgetful love, that God reveals his friendship - his deep, committed relationship with us. For only true friendship could compel a person to lay down his life for his friend. The laying down of one’s life then is an act of true love for one who is my “other self.” As disciples, we have become Jesus’ other selves. True friendship with God is ours, because, in the wounded Christ, God opens his heart to us, longing for our friendship.
Now as friends, we can marvelously exchange our everything with God’s everything - our need with the fullness of his loving mercy. Our friendship with God in Christ through the Spirit is ultimately fulfilled in our promise to love one another as we have been loved and to create households and communities of friends, where we try to love as God loves.
Photograph by Brother Brian.