Thursday, May 14, 2009

I No Longer Call You Slaves

May 15, 2009

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter
By Melanie Rigney

“Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you…” (Acts 15:24-25)

Awake, my soul; awake, lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn. (Psalms 57:9)

“I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.” (John 15:15)


Jesus, open my eyes and ears and heart and soul to all that you have told me. Instill me with the wisdom to use the confidence and strength your friendship gives me.


“It’s God’s will,” we hear when a loved one dies.

“The Lord will provide,” some say when we’re headed for bankruptcy court or foreclosure and aren’t sure where we’ll find the money to pay the next utility bill.

“Trust Jesus,” we’re told when our hearts break over estrangements with friends and relatives.

And we think, as Teresa of Avila did when she was surrounded by intrigue at her convent, that this must be why God has so few friends.

At times of crisis, we may envy what appears to be blind faith. Maybe we even long for more of a slave/master relationship: “Just tell me what to do, Lord. Don’t ask me to make decisions.”

But that isn’t the relationship Jesus describes in today’s Gospel reading. It may not always be apparent to us, but we do know what Jesus is doing in our lives, because he’s told us everything the Father told him. That challenge lies in being brave enough to do what our friend wants.

A wise friend recently lent me Joan Chittister’s Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope. Chittister details some of the ways we choose to cope with life’s problems: 1) Assume if something we don’t like happens, it’s God’s will; 2) Assume God is testing our endurance; 3) Mindlessly turn everything over to God.

Dangerous views, Chittister contends. If we believe everything is God’s will, we turn God, not ourselves and our brothers and sisters, into the one responsible for the world’s ills. Under that view, we can’t do anything about poverty, despair, or inner demons because they’re all God’s will. Or, conversely, we simply offer up and accept the pain in our lives rather than seeking to learn from or challenge it. Chittister writes:

... (G)oing on is what life is all about. Because there is no other choice. The only question is whether we go on in the full of ourselves, or live wounded and dour for the rest of our lives. One way is depression; the other way is new life. One way is defeat; the other way is hope.

A real friend doesn’t insulate us from disappointments and hurts. A real friend doesn’t sit around and endlessly bemoan the unfairness of fate with us. A real friend listens and supports us as we draw on our all our resources—spiritual, mental, physical—to slay the dragon at hand. A real friend gives us a nudge and is at our side as our souls awaken and we prepare to face the dawn, fully victorious or badly bruised. A real friend wants us to be free, not a mindless vassal.

And that’s why it’s easy to find Christ in a real friend, even in our lives’ darkest hours, if we have the courage to look.


Today, refuse to wallow in a pity party or gripe session with anyone. When the whining begins, ask the questions a real friend asks: What do you need to get through this problem? What’s worked for you in similar situations in the past? What resources are available?

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