If you love one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples. - John 13:35
It’s hard to focus on my own life with the continued sorrow, death, and despair in our
world today. The horror of the school murders in Texas, the killing of 10 people in
Buffalo, NY, and continued war in Ukraine, where tens of thousands have died and
millions have become refugees. It all seems impossible.
Recently I was at my cancer center and discovered I was sitting next to three WWII
Veterans, all in their mid-90s. They thought that WWII would have put an end to wars,
but all three suggested that history sadly continues to be about war; and our last
personal battle will be our own war with death.
This month I was able to lead, with my dear friend of 50 years, Father William, what we
call “The Friends of Jesus Retreat,” a small gathering of 20 faithful men—the limit of
who we could fit into two borrowed lake houses. The focus was not about current
events but rather the hope the comes from our friendship in Jesus. We had no agenda
but to share our journey, our faults and failures, the joy of life, with fun, profound
purpose, and couched in the mercy of God’s deep love.
Over the years, I have discovered that so many people are bound by dogma,
denominations, and judgment. But we forget how to be loved and how to love one
another, no matter what our circumstances. Alcoholic Anonymous provides a model of
attraction—just show up, tell the truth of your addiction, and we will help you today.
Right before our Lord Jesus died on the cross, two criminals were also crucified next to
Him. One demanded that Jesus should save them. The other said “Remember me,
Jesus, when you come as King.” Jesus said to him, “I promise that today you will be
with me in Paradise.”
I wonder what that guy’s name was? Maybe simply “a friend of Jesus.” He was not
baptized, did not understand doctrine, was not Catholic or Protestant, or a saint--just a
guy on his last breath who reached out to Jesus and was thereby loved forever. Maybe
with all the sorrow, death, and war that seems to never end, maybe our Lord simply
receives with mercy the lonely, outcast, wounded, and all the children who have been
killed. What if we are about relationships instead of religion and dogmas? What if we
just loved one another as Jesus loved the guy on the cross next to Him?
In a small effort our “friends of Jesus” retreat grew from a desire to be open, honest,
and transparent. We can serve people in small ways, to be loved and forgiven. We can
celebrate friendship, community, and discernment together. Perhaps the world could
know that we are the disciples of Jesus by the love we have for one another.
At our retreat, we prayed for the sorrows of the world. We wept with one another in our
limitations. We walked and talked and gave one another a celebration of hope and
were reminded that Jesus said to his disciples, “I no longer call you servants but
instead I call you friends.”
All of us can make a difference somewhere. Remember, we are called to offer
“attraction, not promotion.” Let people see in you the love of God and the great hope of
Jesus, our friend and savior.
Gratefully your friend, in Christ’s service,
P.S. Kindly google "Caring Bridge B.J. Weber" for my health updates