Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of John (15: 12-17) in which Jesus says to his disciples, “This is my commandment: Love on another as I have loved you. A man can have no greater love than 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 that I have learned from my Father“.

Fr Paul says today’s Gospel reading adds three more dimensions to the concept of the love shared by Jesus and his Father and by Jesus and his disciples. It is a love of friendship not of subservience. Linked to the awed reverence for God there has always been an astounding warmth and even humour of friendship in the Jewish tradition of love of God.

The second aspect of Christ’s love expressed in this passage is that he lays down his life for his friends. Christ’s death was not only the expression of loving obedience to his Father but also the extreme expression of his literally boundless love for his friends whom God reconciled by that shedding of blood.

A third aspect is the openness of this friendship. One of the principal aspects of true friendship is openness, the trust which permits friends to have no secrets from one another. We can have no secrets from Christ, and he on the other hand reveals to us all we can understand about the deity, about God, with a fearless intimacy and frankness in prayer which equal and exceed that of any human friendship.

Today, Fr Paul notes our Gospel Challenge – to be totally open to God and God’s love and friendship.