Central idea: God is love and wants us to love one another. Doctrine: The virtue of friendliness. Practical application: Becoming friendlier.
Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)
To view Lectionary 56, click here.
Central idea: God is love and wants us to love one another
Reading 1 Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
When Peter entered, Cornelius met him
and, falling at his feet, paid him homage.
Peter, however, raised him up, saying,
“Get up. I myself am also a human being.”
Then Peter proceeded to speak and said,
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.”
While Peter was still speaking these things,
the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word.
The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter
were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit
should have been poured out on the Gentiles also,
for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God.
Then Peter responded,
“Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people,
who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?”
He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
- Before Jesus ascended to the Father, he gave the apostles their great commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20).
- Now Peter, the head of the apostles, sees even more clearly what the great commission means.
- Membership in the Church that Christ founded is for everyone: “in every nation whoever fears [God] and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”
- Peter’s eyes are opened due to (1) the vision he, a circumcised believer, received; (2) the vision Cornelius, the uncircumcised Gentile, received; (3) the way Cornelius and his household and friends responded to the message Peter preached to them; and (4) the fact that the Holy Spirit was poured out on them.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power or Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
- Our Lord Jesus Christ has won victory over sin and death for us. He battled them in his Passion and won his victory by his Resurrection.
- He did this out of his kindness and faithfulness.
- As St. John put it in our second reading, “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.”
- God’s justice is to save us all: his first chosen in “the house of Israel” and then his second chosen—all the rest of humanity—to “the ends of the earth.”
Reading 2 1 Jn 4:7-10
Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
- John the Evangelist reflects on the words of Jesus that he recorded in his gospel (below).
- God has made a one-way communication to man. He shows us what love is by sending his Son into the world “as expiation for our sins.”
- First he loved us, then we respond by loving one another.
- When we respond in this way we show we are begotten by God, know God, and have God’s life in us.
- To be begotten by God means to be a child of God.
Gospel Jn 15:9-17
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”
- Jesus Christ is a communicator. He communicates God to man. He reveals who God is, teaches us what God wants, and gives God’s own life to man. It is a one-way communication by which man receives:
- “As the Father loves me, so also I love you.”
- “I have told you everything I have heard from my father.”
- “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.”
- But man only really receives God by responding to what is communicated to him.
- What does God want man to do? He wants us to “love one another as I love you.” Christ loves us as a friend who lays down his life out of friendship.
- We are now friends of God, not slaves of God.
- Man can easily understand and even accept being God’s slave or servant. Under that regime, we must do what God wants or else.
- But what God really wants is man’s friendship, which means God has made a certain equality between God and man. He does this by lowering himself in becoming man through the Incarnation and by raising man to himself through the Redemption.
- This friendship is not for a select few but is intended for everyone. To return to what St. Peter realized in his encounter with Cornelius, “in every nation whoever fears [God] and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”
Doctrine: The virtue of friendliness
- God is love. One way love is expressed is in friendship. Friends act in a friendly way.
- We are called to love everyone. God-in-Christ has restored us to friendship with him, ourselves, one other, and even creation.
- One way we build friendship with our fellow man is through friendliness. Friendliness is a way of showing love toward others.
- Friendliness is the virtue by which we show to others that we welcome, accept, value and support them. Friendliness helps us to make and keep friends. Friendliness helps us to ‘just get along’ with people in all sorts of situations. It assists us in cooperating with others to achieve goals. Other names for friendliness are sociability and agreeableness.
- Flattery is the vice of feigning friendship to manipulate. Lack of friendliness is also a vice: nobody likes to be around a surly, self-interested lout.
- People deserve our friendliness because of their inherent human dignity. On the practical level, we also need to be friendly to just about everyone. We are all members of the human community. We depend on each other. Friendliness makes cooperation easier and we need to cooperate.
- Friendliness or sociability is the good habit of acting in a friendly way toward others. It is the possession of a wide range of positive qualities which makes one approachable to another, good to be with, and helpful to one’s friend. So, friendliness is . . .
- Affectionate, warm, welcoming. You really do like the other and are happy to be with him or her. You show this in some physical way, like a smile, a handshake, a pat on the back, a kiss of greeting, your tone of voice, a hug, holding hands, and so on.
- Delighted and admiring. Your friend is attractive to you because you see his or her good qualities and you rejoice in them.
- Altruistic, benevolent, beneficial, generous and helpful. You want good things to come to your friend and will actively help him or her when you can. You willingly give of what you have to benefit your friend. In essence, you are kind toward your friend.
- Benign. You do no harm to your friend.
- Attentive, considerate, sympathetic and supportive. You are aware of what the other person is thinking and feeling and change your behavior accordingly so as to benefit him or her. For example, you may either sympathize with a friend who is feeling sad or try to cheer him up. You read the signals to judge if the other is hungry, thirsty, or tired. You listen with your eyes as well as your ears.
- Patient, peaceful and easy-going. While you and your friend may do something exciting, even risky or dangerous, you don’t do anything to antagonize your companion. You don’t fly off the handle or show annoyance at him. You don’t criticize him. You and your friend can be quiet around each other. You can calm each other down.
- Civil, cordial, courteous and respectful. You observe the proper forms of speech and gestures to make the way easy for you both. Once you know another person well, it is appropriate for your civility to become informal and familiar, even sharing ways of relating which are particular to the two of you. Nicknames and inside jokes are examples.
- Cheerful. Nothing shows friendliness more than a cheerful smile and a pleasant expression. Around your friend, you are cheerful because you are with someone you like and doing something you both enjoy. Sometimes the two of you are engaged in an unpleasant job, but because you are with a person with whom you are in sympathy, you can find the activity more bearable.
- Humorous. After cheerfulness, a good sense of humor is a great asset in friendliness. The best sense of humor finds incongruity in the situation or is at the expense of the speaker. Any laughing at the weaknesses of your companion could destroy whatever good will you have established between the two of you.
- Forgiving, lenient, conciliatory and understanding. You know that friction easily occurs between people, even well-meaning ones. You are quick to forgive and forget, putting behind you offences the friend might accidentally have caused you. You say you are sorry if you are aware you have offended, but you don’t make your friendliness dependent on your friend asking pardon.
- Communicative and responsive. The relationship between the two of you is built on a two-way verbal communication, reinforced by body language. In regard to facial expressions, while happiness is the fundamental one, what is also important is mirroring the friend. If your friend is disgusted with something, you can also look disgusted, since you are showing disgust not toward your friend but toward the thing he hates. On the other hand, if your friend is angry at something and you simply display a friendly, joking attitude, you are not respecting your friend’s feelings.
- Cooperative. The essence of friendship is doing activities together. Thus, friends don’t have the attitude of ‘it must be done my way or the highway.’ They work together and are generally willing to give in on matters of personal preference in order to achieve their common aims.
- Loyal, faithful, devoted, and trustworthy. Your friend can trust you both when you are with him or her and when you are absent. Your friend is confident that you will not speak or work against him behind his back. Mutual confidence (literally, with faith) is one of the bases of your on-going relationship.
Practical application: Becoming friendlier
- One way to become friendlier is to discover your predominate fault (the negative behavior you constantly seem to fall into) when it comes to friendliness and then form a practical resolution to combat that.
- You might articulate your various roles (spouse, parent, worker, church member, etc.) and look at the various facets of friendliness in light of those roles. For example, you can ask yourself, Am I cheerful to my spouse, to my children, and to my fellow flea circus trainers?
- Maybe you realize you are surly toward family members when you are doing a job around the house you find unpleasant or frustrating. Then, you work on being cheerful while you do those kinds of jobs. Maybe you offer the work up to God beforehand for your family, whistle while you work, and promise yourself a little reward when it is done. If you follow this plan repeatedly, you will likely become more pleasant in these situations.
- Is there any area in your life in which you give yourself permission to act like a jerk? Some people act this way toward clerks, waiters, customer service representatives, or people in similar roles, or toward their children, spouses, or employees.
- If you realize you are abrupt toward people who cannot harm you back in any way, then a special effort to be friendly to them will help you correct this disorder and become more agreeable to everyone else in your life.
- Friendly people regularly reach out to others. They are hospitable.
- Invite someone to go somewhere or to do something with you. You could ask a coworker to take a walk with you at lunch or to go grab a cup of coffee in the afternoon. One family could invite another family over for brunch or dessert. Friendliness can also be cultivated by accepting an invitation, even if you would rather chill out by yourself.