Homilette for Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

(Acts 15:22-31; John 15:12-17)

There is no inherent contradiction in being both Christ’s slaves and his friends. A slave can win the confidence of his or her master to be treated as a friend or even as a relative. Bishop Edward Braxton once wrote an article about a slave in Georgia who labored for a Catholic family. There was such mutual love between slave and masters that the woman chose to stay with the family after Emancipation and was eventually buried in the family plot.

Being slaves to Christ means that we follow him unreservedly. If he tells us – as he does – that it is a sin to divorce one person in order to marry another, then we do not divorce, at least in the sense that the Church interprets the word. In calling his disciples “friends” Jesus underscores his confidence in us. He trusts us implicitly to listen to his words and to carry out his will.

The two terms – slaves and friends – should be seen as complimenting one another. At times we may have difficulty following what Jesus says. It is hard, for example, for the family of a murder victim to pray for the perpetrator of the crime. Yet it does so out of faithfulness to its master. Most of the time, however, we can reflect on and appreciate the wisdom of Jesus, our friend, as when he invites us to eat his flesh in the Eucharist.