Vicar’s Reflection: 6 May 2018, 6th Sunday of Easter
As people draw near to the end of their lives thoughts often turn to what legacy they will leave behind them. Hard-dealing tough-talking businessmen may leave their fortune to a home for abandoned dogs. Take for instance the Mad Butcher, otherwise known as Sir Peter Leitch who developed a chain of butcher shops promoted by himself as a ‘mad butcher” slashing prices etc. Despite this rough-talking and crazy persona, and now in his eighties, he is well known for his philanthropy to many worthy causes in NZ. For his kindness and generosity he will be remembered more perhaps than for his business acumen. This desire to leave a legacy reflective of our true values, the things closest to our hearts, is how we can understand these last words of Jesus from after his Last Supper to his disciples in the final 24 hours of his life on earth. There are two clear messages in today’s selection: ‘You are my friends’ and ‘love one another’. Friends like and respect each other. When they engage in a task together they do so because they share a common goal, not because one has commanded the other. So there is a tension in these words: “You are my friends if you do what I command.” Is friendship with Jesus conditional on obedience? Another way to understand this is that friendship with Jesus has a certain quality to it, of sacrificial love. Friends who will lay down their lives for each other rather than do anything to harm the other, who forgive, serve, care and love each other despite differences and disagreements and misunderstandings. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant.