One of the features of the post Easter stories we’re presented with in this season, is Jesus’ love and care for his friends the disciples, as he prays for them in his last days. He prays that they will know true peace. He prays that they might love one another. In today’s Gospel he prays that his friends know true joy; joy that’s not dependent on good circumstances, but a deep base note that continues on in spite of difficulty or pain or loss.
So much of what we understand friendship to be today is defined by social media. We are popular if we have thousands of friends on our Facebook page, and unpopular if we have only a few. It’s disheartening to find that you’ve been suddenly ‘unfriended’ by someone, without really understanding why. Well today we have a friend request from Jesus in our inbox and we can choose whether to accept and confirm this friendship or whether we will simply ignore it or delete it.
Of course, real friendship goes far deeper than ‘Facebook friending’, which cheapens the whole idea of friendship. Friendship between two human beings is a deep bond with characteristics that include kindness, love, empathy, honesty, loyalty, trust and compassion. It’s not about hero worship, but about honesty and accountability and commitment.
If we are Jesus’ friends, then all these things hold true for our relationship with him. The friendship Jesus speaks of isn’t a shallow ‘Facebook’ friendship, but a two-way relationship in the very deepest sense of the word, where we lay our needs and longings, our flaws and failings, all that we are before the one who offers us true friendship and love, despite knowing the very worst about us.
Today we will sing that lovely old hymn, ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’ that speaks of the depth of this friendship. It is to Jesus, our deepest and most trusted friend that we carry our deepest needs in prayer. As our friend, Jesus is utterly faithful and can be completely trusted, even when all other friends abandon us. This Jesus will never unfriend us on a whim or leave us abandoned and alone no matter what. When we truly grasp that Jesus abides in us in a life-changing way, no matter what our circumstances or our flaws, then we are freed and empowered to be filled with the deep base note of joy that Jesus prays for in his last days.
In peace, Mother Lynda