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By Congregation for the Clergy

5/14/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

I no longer call you slaves, [.] I have called you friends

'I no longer call you slaves, [.] I have called you friends'. These words are the bearers of a radical new relationship between God and humanity.  They reveal something that humanity, in its human condition and sinfulness, could never have imagined: that the Son of God, the only Son of the Father, calls us His friends.

God reaches out to us

God reaches out to us


By Congregation for the Clergy

Catholic Online (

5/14/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: friends, friendship, prayer, spirituality, vatican, Clergy

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - "I no longer call you slaves, [.] I have called you friends" (John 15:15).  These words, spoken to us by the Risen Lord, should be a source of abundant joy and the certain  hope for whatever the future holds for us.  They are the roots of our life, ever new, always given in a passionate love for Christ, for the Truth and for all humanity.

These words are the bearers of a radical new relationship between God and humanity.  They reveal something that humanity, in its human condition and sinfulness, could never have imagined: that the Son of God, the only Son of the Father, calls us His friends.

We should probably think again about what this word 'friendship' really means.  Like 'love', it has been used and abused to such an extent that it seems today to be almost emptied of its real meaning.  But Jesus explains to us in today's Gospel what the authentic friendship of God really means.

The Lord tells us that the status of friends is, as we might put it, qualitatively superior to that of servants.  This seems obvious to us today when think of the idea of servitude as against our rights.  The condition of a servant seems to us to be clearly unworthy of a human being, who should be able to live freely and able to achieve our great ideals.

Yet we can see that this way of understanding the words of Jesus is incorrect.  It's incorrect in the historical context of the time, and in terms of the unique relationship which is being discussed.  The relationship between God and humanity goes deeper than our simple understanding of the words 'friend' and 'servant'.  It is not just a relationship between one person and another, but a relationship between man and His Creator and Redeemer. 

The situation of servitude before God was, in fact, what made Israel the chosen nation.  Israel was called out of slavery in Egypt and put above all the nations of the world to serve the Lord.  It was, and is, an honour and privilege for a people to be chosen and called to be servants of God.

Now, through grace, we can say that God has truly descended into our midst in order to raise us up to His Presence.

In Christ, we see the plan of the Father fulfilled.  He is the real promised land, that was prepared for us in the womb of the Virgin Mary.  We are not like Moses, the servant of the Lord (c.f. Deut 32: 52), destined only to see the promised land from a distance.  We are able to enter and dwell there: "as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you [.] I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father" (John 15: 9, 15).

This is what is so radically new in this friendship.  Humanity, chosen and loved by God, created and called to serve Him, is now destined for a love which is beyond compare.  "A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).  The Son of God, made man, gives His whole Self and lifts us up towards the Father.  He opens the door of his dwelling and welcomes the faithful to the wedding feast.

By choosing us, which really means that He called each of us personally, Christ gives us the joy of sharing in His Life and Sonship.  We become participants, as St Peter says, in the divine nature (c.f. 2 Peter 1:4).

Animated by this new and profound communion with the Risen Lord, that accompanies us always and everywhere, we implore the Blessed Virgin Mary, Refuge of Sinners and Our Lady of Fatima, to help us to 'remain' in the love of Christ, to love one another and bear fruit as befits the children of God.  Amen!

Acts 10,25-26. 34-35.44-48:   
1 Jn 4,7-10:    
Jn. 15,9-17:  


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