BRIDGEPORT– “The profound challenge Christ leaves us is the understanding that we cannot develop a divine friendship with Jesus If we don’t do the same thing with the sisters and brothers around us,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in his online Mass for the Sixth Sunday after Easter.
“Friendship is a lifetime project, a life of self-sacrifice and self-gift,” he said, adding that we are sustained in that challenge “by the gift of his death on the cross and the Eucharist.”
After reading the Gospel of John 15: 9-17 “13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” the bishop began his homily with a simple question, “What does it mean to be a friend?”
He said the answer may seem obvious, “but as in all things related to faith, the obvious answer isn’t the complete one… The Lord gives us a definition of friendship that is quite more challenging.”
Bishop Caggiano said when he recently visited 8th grade classes in diocesan schools, he was impressed by the answers the students gave to his question about friendship. The students told him that friends are people you can trust, people who are supportive and accepting, and people who show kindness.
The bishop said Christ set the model of true friendship in his willingness to forgive the disciples for their many faults, while also seeing their potential.
“Christ knew their brokenness, sins, their future betrayal, and yet he gave all to them, and he laid down his life for them– a friend to the end.”
The Bishop that Christ who is our savior, redeemer and Lord, is also a divine friend who walks alongside of us every moment of the day in our laughter and sorrow, doubts and confusion.
“And like any true friend, the Lord does not want us to lead a mediocre life, because our destiny is greater than that,” the bishop said, “and he helps us by giving his body and blood in the Eucharist and by the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The bishop said friendship is a true gift that opens us to an intimacy that we could not readily share with every person we meet. It is both a “sturdy shelter” and a responsibility.
“If we have a friend and we are afraid to tell the truth to that friend, is it really friendship? If we see a friend entering into destructive behavior and hold our tongue, is that a true friendship? If we socialize together and have lots of laughs and a friend starts to struggle and we begin to distance ourselves, is that true friendship?”
Perhaps friendship as the world understands it lacks the depth of what Christ challenges us to do, the bishop said. “Friendship is a gift that allows us to walk through life with a true companion, so that we may be faithful to our divine friend to the end.”
The bishop concluded his homily by asking us to consider the relationships we have with others and explore how they can be deepened and how they can grow, so that we might do what the Lord asks us to do: “In a broken, harsh, angry and divided world, the simple solution to all that the world is looking for is friendship.”
Before giving the final blessing Bishop Caggiano wished “all mothers, grandmothers, God mothers and foster mothers, a blessed happy and joyful Mother Day–a day well deserved.”
He also announced that in keeping with the Holy Father’s request that people throughout the world pray the Rosary to ask for the end of the pandemic and for the Blessed Mother’s protection and intercession, the diocese will join in the international effort at noon each day. To participate visit the Leadership Institute: https://formationreimagined.org/rosary-for-may-2021/