Tag Archives: Friendship

That They May Be One

John 17:11b-19

“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.”

What’s in a name? In the Old Testament, names stood for the character and mission of a person, as when Abram became Abraham, or Jacob became Israel. The divine name given to Moses at the burning bush, “I AM WHO I AM,” was so sacred that no one pronounced it except the High Priest once a year in the Holy of Holies. 

In Jesus, the great and all-holy “I AM” steps into our world and reveals himself as the Son of the Father, both of whom are “I AM.” When he taught the disciples to pray, “Abba, Father,” he overturned centuries of unapproachability surrounding the four-letter name, YHWH.

Abba, keep your dear ones in your name, in your heart, in your person, in your womb—that they may be one just as we are one. “We”—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in their self-emptying Love—is the model for our personal communion. Jesus’ prayer to the Father reveals that the oneness of the Three Divine Persons is rooted in the Father. Union and communion of persons have a personal principle.

“When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

Friendship is not forced or automatic. Even a close disciple of Christ has the freedom to leave him. 

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One (or ‘from evil’). They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.”

We are pilgrims and sojourners in this life. While forces of disunity and opposing personal wills pull the earth into disintegration, Jesus Christ, the Word of the Father who is Truth, opens the door to reintegration. Every heart consecrated in their truth radiates the energy of divine grace to heal the world. Veni Creator Spiritus!


What is Friendship?

Russian icon, The Mystical Supper (early 14th century). Fresco in Vatopedi Monastery, Mt. Athos.

5th Week of Easter, Friday

John 15:12-17

“I have called you friends.”

Extraordinary words uttered by Jesus. Pagan philosophers like Aristotle had already proven for centuries that friendship with the gods was impossible. Likewise, servants and kings did not mix. Unequal parties, superiors and inferiors, simply could not be friends. The distance in rank or nature made intimacy impossible.

Yet Jesus called the disciples his friends, “because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.” This connection between friendship and Christ’s oneness with the Father is worth pondering. Initiates into the divine circle must somehow be adopted into that filial love between the Father and the Son through Jesus Christ. 

As for equality—the qualification of the Greeks for the possibility of friendship—none had predicted the Incarnation. That God would assume our human nature and become one with us—this was “foolishness” to the Gentiles, in St. Paul’s words. 

From the Cross to the tomb, and back to the Womb of the Father, Jesus divinized our humanity and made possible friendship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Friendship is between persons, not natures, but unity of nature is foundational and Christ did that for us when Mary uttered her “Fiat!” at the Annunciation. 

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Could the Cross be an expression in time and history of the eternal, self-emptying love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? If so, the standards of friendship have reached new heights undreamt of by philosophy.


Divine Friendship

Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir

4th week of Easter, Saturday

John 14:7-14

“If you know me…”

In an intimate friendship, there is the deep sense of feeling truly known and understood. Jesus longed for his closest friends to know him truly.

“Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?”

After three years, Jesus still felt deeply alone in his heart of hearts—his oneness with the unseen Father hardly made an impression on the disciples.

“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father… Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”

Walking with the disciples day after day, Jesus prayed and gave thanks to the Father, blessed in the name of the Father, and shared his mission from the Father. The Father’s voice was heard at the river Jordan and at Mount Tabor, “This is my beloved Son.” Moreover, there must have been hundreds or thousands of intimate, unrecorded moments in which Jesus shared the Father’s heart with his disciples. St. John himself testifies at the end of his Gospel that the world could not contain all that Jesus said and did, had they all been written down.

To know Christ Jesus is to know and love the Father. If anyone shared that deepest intimacy with the Lord, it was the Blessed Virgin Mary who shared with the Father the privilege of begetting the Son—the Father from eternity and the Virgin in time. Contemplation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Son may give us a hint of the ineffable heart of the Father.