Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jesus values friendship

Have you ever wondered why Jesus would always take three of His Apostles along with Him to some important events during His public ministry?

In the Transfiguration, Matthew noted that "after six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light" (Mt 17: 1-9).

In raising the daughter of Jairus, Luke has this account: "When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child's father and mother (Lk 8:51).

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Matthew again tells us: "Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee (James, John ) along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me" (Mt 26:36).

Among His 12 Apostles, Jesus has three circle of friends with whom He shared moments of glory (Transfiguration), of sorrow (Gethsemane) and of joy (important miracles): PETER, JAMES & JOHN.

Besides, among the three "best friends", Jesus has a special friend, whom the Evangelist John called "the Beloved Disciple" or "the disciple that Jesus loved". In fact, in John's account of the Last Supper, the Evangelist made mention of the Beloved Disciple "reclining on Jesus' bosom".

"There was reclining on Jesus' bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. So Simon Peter gestured to him, and said to him, "Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking." He, leaning back thus on Jesus' bosom, said to Him, "Lord, who is it?" (John 13:23-25). (See photo above).

What does it tell us?

It's telling us that friendship forms an essential part in the life of Jesus. Being truly human and being like us in all things except sin, Jesus must have also enjoyed the friendship of His disciples.

"No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you" (Jn 15:15).

It also means that in following the Lord friendship is an essential element. Discipleship is nothing else but "being friends with Jesus". And for those who are following the Lord in the priesthood, friendship also plays an important role as it is an essential element of the priestly ministry.

Making friends with co-seminarians and formators is an essential element of seminary formation, just as Jesus (The Ultimate Formator) was a friend to all His disciples and the disciples (the formandi) were friends among themselves.

Jesus also sees in friendship an opportunity to do apostolate. When He brought His circle of friends to witness some important events in His life, He was not just trying to appear "agreeable" and "likable" to them (like one who invites his newly-found barkadas out to drinks, coffee, movies, dinner, KTV, etc. so they would admire him or think bad of him by misinterpreting his gestures...).

No. Jesus was trying to teach them make them know and understand Him, His message, His way of thinking. A kind of bonding, yes it was. But with a purpose: to make them think, talk and do things the way He does -- TO HELP THEM BECOME CHRIST-LIKE, for that is what it means to be His disciple. In a sense, it was part of their formation.

Of course, at first, they often did not understand Him. They mistook Him, His words, His gestures. Only after He was raised from the dead did they understand Him well. And the CIRCLE OF FRIENDS had contributed a lot to the whole group's understanding of WHO JESUS REALLY WAS, and of what He was really trying to teach them.

We can say, it was Jesus' strategy of forming His disciples. We can also say, it was His natural way of dealing with them as their formator -- Jesus, being truly human Himself.

For one who has been given the task of forming souls, nothing is wrong, I guess, with following the style of Jesus. Of course, not in an exaggerated way.

But just a piece of advice: IF YOU WISH TO FOLLOW JESUS' STYLE, BE SURE TO HAVE FIRST, JESUS' HEART. For the heart of Jesus treasures so much the value of friendship. And only through, with and in the heart of Jesus, true friendship can flourish.

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"Sacerdotes, 'consagrados en la Verdad'"

Estar inmersos en la Verdad, en Cristo, de este proceso forma parte
la oración, en la que nos ejercitamos en la amistad con Él y aprendemos a
conocerle: su forma de ser, de pensar, de actuar. Rezar es un caminar en
comunión personal con Cristo, exponiendo ante Él nuestra vida cotidiana,
nuestros logros y nuestros fracasos, nuestras fatigas y nuestras alegrías -es un
simple presentarnos a nosotros mismos ante Él. Pero para que esto no se
convierta en un autocontemplarse, es importante que aprendamos continuamente a
rezar rezando con la Iglesia.