Thursday, May 22, 2014

Countdown to Takeoff

5th Friday of Easter  

Acts 15:22-31
Jn 15:12-17

“I have called you friends.” 

Friendship with Jesus is like other friendships.  There is  depth but also a degree of simplicity.  Friendship with Jesus is not necessarily complicated.  It doesn’t need big mystical experiences, tear-inducing consolations at prayer or apparitions.  Friendship with Jesus involves living with him day by day, walking with and listening to him, and being nourished by his word, his body and his blood.

We walk with Jesus as we do those small things, those little gestures of love, kindness, affection and forgiveness that may, in fact, be more difficult, and are more enduring, than actually giving up our life for the other.  At times the slow death to oneself through giving to the other is more difficult than leading the charge into a burning building.    
We have to work at friendship.  It takes time.  All of us have had the experience of being so dazzled by a new acquaintance that within an unseemly short period of time we’ve decided that he or she is our new best friend and confidante, only to become disillusioned or be the one who disillusions, in an equally short period of time.  Infatuation is a dangerous and painful situation. 

True friendship with Jesus involves struggle and pain, but also joy and comfort.  Mostly joy and comfort.  A friend is not necessarily someone with whom we are equal.   We are not always on equal footing with a friend.  A friend is someone who tells us the truth no matter how painful.  But a friend is someone who takes us back no matter how often or how seriously we mess up.  The truth-telling is painful.  The strength of a friend’s love when we are more Judas Iscariot than Lazarus consoles. 

Slaves—or employees—generally don't know what the boss is up to.  No conversation.  No negotiation.  But Jesus has told us everything.  He has given us everything.  How are we to respond?

In his commentary on this passage, Jesuit Father Stanley Marrow notes that loving with utmost generosity and utter selflessness, even to laying down of one’s life, is not uniquely Christian.  What distinguishes, or must distinguish, Christians is, when they love, they love as Christ loved them and because he loved them. 
Ten days to go and I'll be singing "Up Up and Away" or at least listening to the Fifth Dimension recording of it.  I leave for Lyon, France on Saturday 31 May.  Two months later, on 29 July, it is off to N'Djamena, Chad for most of August.  There is possible side-trip to Cameroon but Chad is the main destination.  More about the whys and wherefores later.  Still a few things to get done before the trip.  Will manage at some point I'm sure.  Cut it close.  

Spent two days last weekend in Newport, RI for a bipolar disease conference.  Conference was very good.  Dinner was superb, particularly the company, and Saturday was a glorious day.  The last workshop was on treating bipolar disease in pregnant women.  That is never going to happen in this man's life so I took the camera and shot some photos in the area immediately surrounding the Hyatt Regency.  

This was the view of a bridge out of my hotel room.  Friday afternoon was misty, rainy, cool, windy and terrific for photography.

Looking down between two piers.  Getting up from a sitting position in the parking lot was not easy.  Oh to be thirty again. 

The rest are various views of boats in the harbor.  Didn't have a great deal of time to do this before beginning the hour and a half drive back to Boston.  Very gratifying trip. 

 +Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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