I Have Called You Friend
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Who doesn't yearn to know in their very marrow that God is their friend? Who doesn't want more peace? And who wouldn't like to handle life's difficulties and pain with equanimity?
In Christ, surely such impossible-sounding desires are possible, and in one of the most beautiful Gospel chapters, Jesus opens his heart to his disciples, telling them that he loves them, that they are his friends, and that he is always with them:
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you …. When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me." (John 15:9-15, 26, NIV)
Jesus is still saying this to us today: "I have called you friends" (John 15:15). If we begin meditating on the awesome intimacy of Christ's friendship, we can set about discovering the truth of St. Augustine's words: "God is closer to your soul than you are yourself" (Following Christ).
Be Still and Know
Solitude and silence are ancient spiritual disciplines that help us nurture our friendship with God. Solitude comes from the Latin solitudo, from solus for "alone," and silence merely means shutting our mouths for a moment, which is always hard for this particular middle-aged Cuban woman, wife, mother, and professor to do.
In this context, Psalm 46:10 may be the most overlooked verse in the Bible: "Be still, and know that I am God." How would our world change if we all practiced what it teaches? The ancient Christian mystics teach us that—more importantly and closer to home—our lives are transformed when we are still and quiet regularly. In one sermon, the 13-century Benedictine nun Umiltà of Faenza says, "Those who want to be able to listen well to God's speaking must enclose themselves in great silence" (A Little Daily Wisdom).
Getting alone with God helps us listen to the rich, soul-making silence that is divine love.
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