5th week in Easter Time, Thursday – 14th May 2020 — Gospel: Jn 15, 9-17
Sharing in Jesus’ friendship
Jesus calls his disciples “friends” and contrasts this with the master-slave relationship which was a one-way relationship. The ideal of friendship was important in the ancient world. There were two kinds of friendship: political and fictive-kinship. Political friendship was built alongside patron-client models. Fictive-kinship friendship was more reciprocal. Friends looked always for the well-being of one another. It even implied the willingness to defend the friend with one’s life. In general, it was more egalitarian than the patron-client relationship, even though in some occasions a friend could act as a broker of a patron’s favours (15,16). Jesus is saying two things in this section: He is disciples’ friend. He is willing to give his life for them. Yet he is not his disciples’ equal. He retains a singular position, because he has made known to them everything that he has heard from the Father. Jesus’ own are no longer slaves but friends, not on the basis of anything that they have done for him but on the basis of what he has done for them. Through his friendship, he has brought them into a relationship of reciprocal love, creating a community of friends, willing to sacrifice themselves for each other.