In the Gospel reading today from John 15, Jesus says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Whenever I read this, I hearken back to the story of the good Samaritan. Why? Because Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” And He answered with the good Samaritan story. He finished with, “Which one of these was neighbor to the man?” The answer was the Samaritan. The one who no one ever would have considered to be a neighbor or a friend. Samaritans were hated, loathed, looked down upon. So why do I bring this up?
Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel beg the question: Who is my friend? Should we be willing to lay down our lives only for those that we are close to? The people that we like, that we hang out with? Or should our definition of “friend” be a bit larger? A bit more all-encompassing? Should we be willing to lay down our lives for total strangers, even those that we may never dream of hanging out with? I think we both know the answer to that.
Father, help us broaden our definition of “friend.” Help us to be willing to lay down our lives for any and all who need us to. Amen.