The offer of God’s friendship

5 May, 2024 6th Sunday Easter Year B

Parents often offer these words of encouragement and support to their children when they have to move to a new place or to a new school, “It will be alright; you will make new friends.”


It can be difficult not only for children but for anyone to leave old friendships behind and to seek new friends. It reinforces the importance that we place on strong relationships, and the common bonds that develop through important milestones and junctures of our lives.


Many people enjoy friendships that start in primary school that last through university, careers, relationships, children and grandchildren. Lifelong friendships can be some of the most cherished and important things in our lives. Priceless treasures.


In today’s gospel, Jesus offers us God’s friendship. “I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.” With these words, Jesus reveals God’s desire to have a different type of relationship with us. A relationship that is based on a deep, true and personal friendship.


This relationship is about God being with us in the very ordinariness of our lives. In the marketplace, at the coffee shop, the park, the beach and, more importantly, in our homes. It is because in these locations that we normally catch up with our friends to share our thoughts and desires, God wants to have that kind of relationship with us too in these places.


God wants to establish a relationship that moves beyond worship and one that enters into deep, heartfelt and very real conversations. To move beyond sterile prayer halls and into the sometimes messiness and grey areas of our very human condition. Importantly, we should understand that in God wanting to be friends with us, there is a deep acceptance and understanding of our flawed person. A safe place where we can bare all with no fear of condemnation. A place where God is listening and accepting.


St Alphonsus, the founder of the Redemptorists wrote extensively on this wonderful idea of God as a friend and these writings have been compiled into a book titled, Praying to God as a Friend. Despite the gospels revealing this more than 2000 years ago and St Alphonsus writing about this over 300 years ago, the notion of God as a friend is still a relatively novel idea today. But it’s there, right in front of us in today’s gospel.


God’s friendship is waiting. It is truly priceless treasure that is freely offered and freely given. It is up to us to respond positively.


Mark Chia CSsR

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