Easter 5th Week , Friday, May 15th

Acts 15:22-31 / John 15:12-17 
Jesus talks more about love: “No one has greater love than this.”

A municipal park in Chicago is called Milton Olive Park. The story behind the park’s name deserves to be told over and over. Milton Olive was a 19-year-old soldier who fought in Vietnam. In October 1965, he threw himself on a live hand grenade and saved the lives of four comrades. “In that incredible, brief which he decided to die, he put others first and himself last. I have always believed that to be the hardest but the highest decision that any man is called upon to make.”
How willing are we to put others before ourselves, even in situations that require far less courage than the one Milton Olive faced? “A hero sacrifices what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Anonymous
Name-dropping is the practice of casually mentioning the names of famous people one knows or claims to know in order to impress others. Obviously, it is done to make oneself feel more important, which already reveals a sense of insecurity and need for recognition. Name-dropping is also often used to abuse. One would use the name of someone in authority to get others to comply to an order, even if the order did not come from the authority itself. For example, one would use "the boss says so", or "the Archbishop says so" to get others to get some work done or to make others comply to an order. Whether that is said by the person who is referred to is another matter.

In the 1st reading, the apostles and elders of the early church sent a letter to the Christian communities in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. Addressing the issue of circumcision, they had recourse to a very big name to reinforce their stand when they wrote: It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any burden beyond these essentials ...Those who didn't agree with their directive would accuse them of name-dropping. But those who saw the clarity and understood the rationale of the directive would know that the apostles and elders had prayed and the Holy Spirit had enlightened and guided them.

But the fruits of that directive can been seen even until today with the Church's position on circumcision. In fact, it is hardly an issue anymore. So it is true that the Holy Spirit decided and helped the apostles and elders to make that decision. And may we always have recourse to the guidance and enlightenment from the Holy Spirit to make our decisions. With the Spirit of truth, whatever we do in the name of God will bear fruit that will last.
Friday of 5th Week of Easter - Liturgy

Fraternal love among Christians, but also love of all people for one another, without boundaries or reservations is inseparable from friendship with God. Both loves are in fact one. For Christians, human relations have a religious content and express a religious relation. For sure, we can and must love God in himself. But we experience God when our love, like his, is liberal and without calculation, oriented towards people in their otherness. Such a love converts us, that is, turns us to God and to others, overcomes selfishness, forgives and shares. It recognizes the sensitivities and respects the backgrounds of others; see today’s first reading, Jews and Christians recognizing one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. This is Christian love in action. 

Penitential Rite
- As you urge us through your apostles to abstain from wrong activities, LHM
- As your mercy towers to the heavens, and your faithfulness to the skies. CHM
-As you desire from us a steadfast heart that will sing of your praises, LHM

Opening Prayer 
Lord our God, love is your name and you have revealed all its depth when you sent your only Son into the world and let him be the sacrifice that took our sins away. Through Jesus, who calls us his friends, make our love as strong as life and death; let it always have the last word in us and be given for free, like yours. May we always remain in your love and love one another as Jesus has loved us, he who is our Lord, for ever and ever.

When a church is named, it is often after a sainted person whose life places in relief one or more aspects of Christ’s teaching. Or it may be named for Christ himself under one of his many tides. Therefore, it is more than a little be surprising that we do not meet a church named for “Jesus, our friend.” In today’s Gospel, Jesus clearly designates himself as our friend, the clear proof of which was his willingness to lay down his life for us. One of the main thrusts of the Johannine teaching is to underscore Jesus’ initiatives in our regard. We are chosen; we are friends. Our relationship now is one of friendship, not slavery; it is through his presence that we now bear fruit. And it was for our sake that he laid down his life. Perhaps the absence of the tide of Jesus as friend is due to the fact that friendship in modem parlance has lost much of its force. We use it today even of people who may be no more than acquaintances, whereas true friendship must be tested and proven. Christ is the greatest example of such true friendship. When the Jerusalem assembly had completed its work, a delegation was commissioned to bring its decision to the broader church. Judas and Silas accompany Paul and Barnabas to bring the decision to Antioch. The decision regarding freedom from the law was to have widespread consequences. It meant that Gentile Christians did not have to pass through the portals of Judaism in coming to Christ. The way to Christ is a one-way route. It is not complicated even though it sets a high standard. It is a loving response to the One who calls us friends and walks with us on our journey. 

Points to Ponder 
Jesus as friend
What greater love than this?
The chosen friend 

– That the Church may be deeply aware, that what matters to God is not our language or culture or face, but that his friends are those who learn to love, we pray:
 – That we may know that we, God’s servants, are more than servants, for we belong to his household and are his friends, we pray:
– That we may know that we could not choose and love God, but that he has chosen and loved us, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts 
Lord, our God, loving Father, your love appeared with a human face in your Son, Jesus Christ. He showed all the depth of your love and his by laying down his life for us, his friends. As he gives himself to us as the bread of life, may he be our food on the road of life and of love, not only when it is easy to love but also when it is hard to be faithful and when love demands self-forgetting sacrifice. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. 

Prayer after Communion 
Our loving God, in this Eucharistic celebration you have given us new proof of your love by giving us your Son and his Spirit. Jesus has strengthened our love. Accept our thanks and bring out the best in us, that we may bear rich fruit of faithful, reliable love. Let your Holy Spirit unite us to build community with one another and to live in your love and joy, now and for ever.   

Just imagine! Today, Jesus has called us his friends and asked us to remain in his love. Let us do all we can to put this into practice, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.