April 7, 2020

Catholic For Life

Preaching the Santity of Human Life and the Gospel Message




BY: Fr. Christian Eze


First reading – Acts 10:25-26.34-35.44-48
Second reading – 1 Jn 4:7-10
Gospel – Jn 15:9-17

… I call you friends….You did not choose me, no, I chose you – Jn 15:14, 16

A careful observation would tell us that we actually live our lives between the choices made for us and the choices we make for ourselves.

Call it nature if you like, but our gender, colour, tribe, race, nationality, our parents, our siblings; these are things we never chose by ourselves, rather we just came to see them the way they. Whether desirable or regrettable, we must live with them for we cannot truly and effectively dissociate from them. Also, there could be choices made for us by other people. Our parents, for instance, can choose for us our names, a place to live, and our god-parents while we are infants. We may change these when we grow up if we want to. Most of other things are the choices we make for ourselves as we grow up. We choose the schools we attend; we chose the career to take up and so on. Most importantly, we choose our friends. The choice of friends is an interesting one. From childhood, not even our parents could choose our friends for us. Parents could discourage their children from making friends with certain persons, but to bring someone and say “this must be your friend” would be like forcing the honey bee to stay in a particular cave and produce honey. Our friends must be our personal choices. In today’s gospel, Jesus not only identified his disciples as His friends, He also declared they were chosen by him and not chosen for him by anyone. In other words, the friendship of Jesus is real.

Human friendship may tell us that some friends are reliable while others are not. Some are trust- worthy and some are not. Some would even betray their friends. Experiences as such have made a lot of people become very skeptical about making friends, or they suspect every movement of their best friends. But no matter how we avoid it, we find out we cannot truly live our lives without friendship. There are people who have died simply because they had no one to share their life’s story with. Loneliness is dangerous. I would wish to describe loneliness here not as the absence of people, rather, the absence of friends. Someone could have many brothers yet very lonely. Someone could have a wife or a husband and yet very lonely. To have brothers, sisters, mother, father, wife or husband that takes away your loneliness simply means that you have found friendship among them. The best wife, husband, family members to live with is the one who is both your friend and such a relation. Many problems we see today in friendship come as a result of the many wrong notions of it. We must learn from the Lord in His choice of us as his friends, and then we correct our errors.

When we recall how Jesus was choosing his disciples, it becomes clear that he did not choose them because they were such perfect persons. At least, we know that among these “chosen friends” was the traitor, Judas Iscariot. The friendship of Jesus is undoubtedly out of pure and sacrificial love. It is inclusive that it transcends gender, race, nationality, section, party, occupation, social status and so on. We can see this clearly in the first reading of today how the family of Cornelius, Gentiles who were regarded as outcasts; they too received equal share of Salvation of Christ through Baptism and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. No matter the “imperfections” of the Gentiles, Jesus also extended his hands of friendship to them. One thing we know is that a man/woman cannot be happy with you if you are his/her friend yet you are not in talking terms with his close friend. All who were redeemed in the Precious Blood of Jesus are chosen to be His friend. We are called to extend, on behalf of Jesus, our hands of friendship to them all. Peter was a true friend of his Friend. He did not consider the challenge he would receive from his fellow Jews if he failed to explain why he went to the Gentiles. True friendship must involve sacrifice and some risks. Imagine the risk Jesus took in Jn 11:8 by going to Judea even when the disciples had reminded Him how narrowly He had escaped being stoned there. But the affection He had for His friends – Mary, Martha and Lazarus, made Him opt for it. What a friend we have in Jesus who knows us and all our troubles! The Igbo song Imebe enyi imetabeghi Jesus…attracts my attention here.

Jesus is ready to risk anything for the good of those who choose Him as their friend: “A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” – Jn 15:13. What risk have I ever taken for the sake my friend? If I say I have chosen Jesus as my friend, what risk have I taken for Him?

There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus’;
No, not one! no, not one!
None else could heal all our souls’ diseases:
No, not one! no, not one!
Jesus knows all about our struggles; He will guide ’til the day is done: There’s not a Friend like the lowly Jesus:
No, not one! no, not one!
No friend like Him is so high and holy,
No, not one! no, not one!
And yet no friend is so meek and lowly,
No, not one! no, not one!
There’s not an hour that He is not near us,
No, not one! no, not one!
No nightso dark, but His love can cheer us,
No, not one! no, not one!
Did ever saint find this Friend forsake him?
No, not one! no, not one!
Or sinner find that He would not take him?
No, not one! no, not one!
Was e’era gift like the Savior given? No, not one! no, not one!
Will He refuse us the bliss of heaven?
No, not one! no, not one!

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