Friendship with God

May 5, 2024

Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B

Readings for Today


“I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. 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 and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.” John 15:15–17

Just prior to the passage quoted above, Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” Is that the measure of true friendship? That we do what our friend commands us to do? That depends upon which friend we are speaking about.

There are many images we use for God. We call Him Father, Savior, Master, Lord, King, Redeemer, Spirit and Friend. When it comes to God as our divine Friend, it is important to understand the nature of that friendship properly. Jesus’ friendship is not one that simply makes us “buddies.” Friendship with our Lord is not the same as a friendship between two equals. He is God. And because He is God, our friendship with Him takes on unique characteristics that are not present in other friendships. With that said, there could be no greater friend than the Lord Himself.

Among humans, our friendships have various foundations. It could be that two people have mutual interests and they enjoy engaging in those interests together. It could be that two people have spent much pleasant time together since childhood. Or it could be that two people have endured some difficulty together and that experience has bonded them together. But according to Saint Thomas Aquinas, friendship in its purest form is based on just one thing: mutual charity.

Charity is the form of love that is purely selfless. It’s a way of relating to another in which a person’s sole focus is the good of the other. It is not based on one’s own self interests. It’s not a matter of “what do I get out of it?” In 1 Corinthians 13:4–8, St. Paul defines the love of charity this way: “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” This is not only the definition of charity, it is also the only foundation for true friendship.

When you consider all of these qualities of charity, you will find that God relates to us in each of these ways. For that reason, God offers us the purest friendship possible. Whether or not we reciprocate these qualities to God will determine the depth of the bond of friendship that we establish with Him. But there is more. When we love God, we must love Him in a way that is proper and proportionate to Who God is. For example, if we offer charity to God, we seek to fulfill only God’s interests and rejoice in the Truth of Who He is. Thus, the charity we offer to God comes in the form of worship. He is God and is worthy of worship, adoration, surrender, trust and perfect obedience. When it is God we are loving, the very essence of the Person we love requires these responses.

One beautiful and consoling thing to recognize with this form of charity given to God is that it also establishes a true friendship with God. When we offer our worship to God, we are in a position to receive the very life of God in return. And the giving of ourselves, coupled with the reception of the life of God, establishes a bond of holy friendship that will transform us, unite us with Him and fulfill us to perfection. Friendship with God makes us one with Him and opens us to receive everything that He shares with us—namely, His very Self.

Reflect, today, upon the invitation Jesus has offered you to enter into a true friendship with Him. This means that God becomes the center of your life. It means that you seek to give yourself, selflessly and without reserve, to Him Who is deserving of all your love. It means you choose worship and obedience to perfection. The reward of such love is that you are able to enter into a bond that is so holy, so pure and so fulfilling that it completes you, enabling you to become who you were meant to be.

My God and true Friend, You offer me everything in life. You offer me Your perfect love, given fully and without reserve. I pray that I will reciprocate that depth of love and offer to You all that You deserve. I offer You my love, worship and obedience, dear Lord. May this mutual love form a bond that will never end. Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured images above: Jesus teaches By Jaroslav, via Adobe