Sixth Sunday of Easter
Adapted from a reflection by Fr. Wayne Cavalier, O.P. Province of St. Martin de Porres San Antonio, TX
I recently studied Spanish in Costa Rica after first learning it in Mexico. As with all languages, there are regional variations. One variation between Mexico and Costa Rica is the use of the 2nd person pronoun. In English, there is only one form: “you.” But in Spanish, there are two: “usted” (formal) and “tu” (familiar). Both mean “you”, but the former conveys more honor, such as when we add “ma’am” or “sir” to the English “yes”. Mexicans reserve “usted” for elders, dignitaries, and less-known acquaintances. Everyone else is addressed with “tu.” In contrast, Costa Ricans laugh that they use “usted” even when speaking to their pets! They use the familiar “tu” form only very rarely, for someone with whom one is intimate, and for God. Ponder that for a minute. This distinctive Costa Rican usage came to mind while reflecting on today’s readings. All three readings address in different ways the extravagance, the superabundance of God’s love for you (yes, you). But none says it more profoundly than the words of Jesus in the Gospel: “I no longer call you slaves… I have called you friends.” In other words, God’s love is as intimate as the Costa Rican “tu.” Do you have a hard time thinking of God’s love for you as intimate? What does it mean that God calls us “friends”? Exploring this question is a worthwhile endeavor:
- What God seeks in our relationship is not the kind of lopsided adoration normally associated with a deity. The God of Jesus Christ seeks to be close to us, to know us, and to be known by us. This is abundantly evident in the Incarnation: God empties God’s Self to become human like us and ultimately to die for us. There is no more intimate love than the complete surrender of oneself to the other.
- In such an intimate relationship, prayer becomes the choice to dwell with, to be present to the beloved. It is not an act of obsequiousness, but a surrendering response to the gift of self-surrender that God has first given to us.
- Our ultimate destiny with God is communion, the final and complete union of ourselves with God without losing our identity in God. We celebrate a foretaste of this in the Eucharist where we receive the sacramental and real presence of Christ. We take God into ourselves.
- What God wants from us is that this invitation to love is accepted. Simple. Not easy, because it will change us, as all real love relationships do. But simple, such as opening ourselves up to the love of a friend and willingly embracing all that it means.