At Home with a Friend
esus said to his disciples: 'Make your home in me, as I make mine in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit all by itself, but must remain part of the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me.
No one has greater love than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I shall not call you servants anymore, because a servant does not know his master's business; I call you friends because I have made known to you everything I have learned from my Father
John 15: 1-4; 13-15
Is there someone you can feel completely at home with? Someone with whom you can be totally at ease? It may be a close friend; it may be a relation: mother or father, sister or brother, or grandparent. It may be your spouse, or your son or daughter. With that person you feel loved and accepted as you are; you can be yourself, you can say anything you want; you have absolute trust.
You may find that the person feels at home with you too and can say to you: 'You accept me as I am, I can be myself with you, I can tell you anything; I would trust you with my life.' What a wonderful gift such a friendship is.
It was a great day
When I was a curate in a parish in Tallaght, our school had First Communions in the month of May. One year as part of their preparation, their teacher asked the children to write a story called 'Jesus my friend.' On First Communion day each story was put on a wall in the church along with a photo of its author. With their imaginations vivid at the age of eight, these children had no trouble fitting Jesus into their lives in Tallaght. They asked him, 'Would you like to go to the Square? Would you like to go to the UCI Cinema? Would you like to see Toy Story?' Each time Jesus said, 'Yes, I would like to.' 'Would you like to come to my house? Would you like to see my dog? Do you like rabbits? Would you like to see my rabbits? Would you like to play football?' Jesus' answer was always 'Yes.' The children were glad to share things with Jesus. 'What would you like for dinner? Ham and potatoes?' Or when they met him at McDonalds: 'Do you want chips and a hamburger?' The stories had a happy ending: 'We had a lot of fun together. It was a great day.' One child said 'Jesus stayed on in my family and we're the best of friends.'
The children could imagine this easy relationship with Jesus because of their own experience of love and friendship. Through the happy relationships they saw in their own homes - when their families were at their best - or in the homes of their relations and friends, they could imagine how they would relate to Jesus and how he would relate to them.
A close sharing between friends
The same is true of ourselves. It is through the love we have experienced from other people that we get a sense of Jesus' love for us. At the Last Supper Jesus said to the apostles 'Make your home in me as I make mine in you.' These words are addressed to us as much as they were addressed to them. He is letting us know that he feels completely at home and at ease with us, he can be himself with us. He invites us to feel at home and at ease with him, to feel loved and accepted as we are. People do that. They will tell you, 'I talk to Jesus; I can tell him anything. If I am angry with him, I tell him exactly how I feel.'
St. Theresa of Avila said that prayer is simply a close sharing between friends; it means taking time often to be alone with him, whom we know loves us. St. Paul said that the love of Christ drove him on, and that he had accepted the loss of everything in order to have Christ. Pope John Paul may have been describing his own life of prayer when he wrote in his old age: 'Our gaze is ever more firmly set on the face of the Lord.'
What a friend we have in Jesus
Joseph Scriven was born in Dublin in 1819. When he was twenty six years old his fiancée died in a drowning accident on the day before they were to be married. He emigrated to Canada. He was a deeply committed Christian. His mother became seriously ill and he was unable to return to her in Dublin, so he wrote to her and sent her this hymn. He said that the Lord and himself had composed it.
What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do no carry everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; Take it to the Lord in prayer!
Can we find a friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness. Take it to the Lord in prayer!