National Pilgrimage – “Love is a gift from God which allows us to love our enemies” confides Mgr Aupetit

This is our final Mass, but it is a Mass of thanksgiving, which opens onto eternity. During the previous days, we have seen how the fraternity received at baptism opens us to all humanity without exception. Brother to be friends. It seems to me that the Gospel today really gives us the keys to understanding the relationship between fraternity and friendship.

“I call you my friends”. God comes among men to make friends. A God who makes himself our friend? Friendship, Montaigne defined it as an acquaintance of the soul. When we are friends we are on the same length of soul. If we are on the same length of soul as God, then we are a religion of friendship.

But ultimately, are we brothers or friends? It seems to me that being brothers is learning to love each other in the difference, since we have not chosen each other. To be friends is to choose those who share our intimacy.

In a family, learning affection and tenderness is built with people we have not chosen. This is exactly what is happening in our communities where people of different origins come together, where sensitivities confront each other in benevolence. Well, normally. This is the main role of a parish priest or a leader: the unity of his community.

How can we understand this friendship that Christ offers us? It is not a friendship based on common interests. This would mean living in a cramped and reductive world like cell phone algorithms do, which lock us into the same circles of friends who think or seek the same thing as us.

The friendship offered by Christ is very different. We heard him, it was not us who chose him as a friend, it was he who chose us. So it is not a personal feeling that unites us, it is a gift from God, the gift of friendship. And this is how we can understand this strange paradox: “Here is my commandment: love one another”. Indeed, our experience makes us think that love is a feeling that comes from the heart, but not a commandment. Jesus teaches us that true love does not come from natural sympathy with those who love us or who are like us. Love is a gift from God which allows us to also love our enemies in order to live an unconditional love in his image: “Love one another as I have loved you”. What a magnificent vocation we have: brothers and sisters to open our hearts to universal friendship.


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