We often talk about love, but not about friendship. We often fall in love, but not fall in friendship. In our language, we often hear the word pagkamoot, but not pakipagkatood. To refer to a friend, we use the Spanish word amigo. We only hear the word katood in the scriptures, as if friendship only exists in the scriptures, but not in our homes, at our work place, or in the streets.
The gospel this Sunday teaches us about friendship. Right after the last supper, when Jesus knew that his time was running out, he gave these last minute instructions. “Love one another as I have loved you.” “Remain in my love.”
The apostles would soon be engaged in a spiritual warfare. They were to conquer hostile territories in order to convert peoples to Christianity. The only guarantee for the success of such a daunting mission is to abide in the love and friendship of Jesus. To abide or to remain, in its original Greek word meno, means to persevere in doing something with a great level of intensity. It is so intense that a friend could even offer his life for his friend. And Jesus showed that to his friends.
Then, Jesus says: “I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing.” Jesus is an open book. He tells us about his Father, about his mansions, about his Kingdom. He is generous in teaching us everything he learnt from his Father. Can we find a friend who is an open book to us? Are our political and spiritual leaders true friends?
Further, Jesus says: “You did not choose me. I chose you.” Like the apostles, we must be lucky to have been born in a family with a religion and culture that knows about Jesus. We need no effort to learn about him. We heard about him since childhood - in our bed time stories. This alone is already a gift. Jesus is offering his hand in the name of true friendship.
Lastly, Jesus assured them: “I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last.” A true friend of Jesus works ardently for the building of God’s Kingdom, never for the building of one’s ego. Humans love to make their own monuments – to ensure that they will not be forgotten. Unfortunately, many of these monuments do not last. Some are even destroyed right before the ego-builder’s very eyes.
The building of God’s Kingdom on earth is the business of every faithful Christian. It is a spiritual edifice that can only successfully be constructed in the name of love and friendship of Jesus.
Today, we also remember the mothers in our parish community. May every mother be an instrument of God’s love so that every human family will both have a mother and the friendship of Our Lord. Happy Mother’s Day.