Acts 14:19-28; Ps 145:10-13;21; Jn 14:27-41
Jesus is the friend of sinners. Jesus is our friend, and his love could not be more clearly revealed than in his cross and resurrection. Jesus is our friend, but are we his friends? To be a friend of Jesus is to be his disciple, to follow him home to the Father. “The friends of the Lord tell the glory of his kingship,” proclaims the Psalm. The friends of the Lord, in their praises discourse of the glory of his kingdom and speak of his might. Why do they do this? This they do so that all people might know the might and the glorious splendor of the Kingdom of God. The Lord Jesus from his throne on Calvary has established this kingdom, and his self-sacrifice endures through all generations in the mystery of the Eucharist. In this re-presentation of the sacrifice of Christ his body and blood satisfy our hunger and thirst, and we take on Christ’s own hunger and thirst that all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. Such are the friends of the Friend of Sinners.
In today’s first reading, we witness that friends of the Lord quickly formed a circle about St. Paul, and before long he got up and went back into the town. This praying circle of friends brought healing to St. Paul after he was stoned and dragged out of the town. Not only did they heal his flesh; their prayers also healed his rejected and broken heart so that he might continue to proclaim the Good News and make many more disciples. As friend of the Lord Jesus, Saint Paul spent himself to bring as many people as he could to Christ. He would encourage new disciples by saying, “we must undergo many trials if we are to enter into the reign of God.” This is how St. Paul encouraged them! He warned them of suffering! This gave them courage to be like Saint Paul and to pour themselves out in loving service of the Friend of Sinners. These new disciple-friends of Jesus helped St. Paul in his mission to open the door of faith to the Gentiles.
Jesus Christ declared himself to be the “door none may close.” By faith in Christ, the early believers were able to transcend the boundaries of their religious culture. These first friends of the Friend of Sinners were enabled to have such a powerful witness because they received a gift from the Lord. As he was about to depart from this world and go to the Father, Jesus bestows Peace as his farewell gift. This peace-gift was first given to calm and comfort those who were distressed and fearful that Jesus was departing. During our liturgy today we receive and share the same gift of Peace. Not as the world gives peace, not mere political compromise for economic stability, rather, this Peace flows from our union with the Father and His Son in the Holy Spirit. Such peace can never be taken away; it matters not how completely we are rejected or despised for our witness to the Risen Lord. In love we rejoice that The Son is victorious over the Prince of this world. He is triumphant because he freely obeys the Father and returns to him through “being lifted up on the cross and in the glory.” The Prince of this world chooses to live in rebellion rather than obey the Father so he continues to cause distress and fear. The Son of God chooses to love and obey The Father and in this eternal choice we come to know who we are. We are friends of sinners. We bring the gift of Peace to all that are distressed or fearful.