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Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the crowd, which he just fed, to believe in him and relate to him personally. Why is this so hard? Well, it is intellectually counterintuitive. Why would this one figure, this Jesus, be the one and only? Why should I choose to relate to him and not the numerous other religious leaders and philosophers? Are all other religious people just lost or misguided? Wouldn’t it just be easier to relate to Jesus’ ideas and principles, to imitate his style of life? Yes, indeed it would, but that’s not what he says.

Perhaps we could look at it from Jesus’ side. Jesus no longer calls us “servants,” but “friends.” What if there were someone who wanted to be friends with you, and you were to say, “Oh sure! I admire you and would like to imitate your form of life, but I don’t want to spend a lot of time with you.” How would that strike your prospective friend?

What is unique to Christianity is that God is offering us friendship. You don’t mess around with friendship; you don’t turn it into something abstract; you don’t compromise with it. You enter into it fully.