VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Jesus calls believers not only to be servants of his kingdom, as the prophets and Mary were, but also to be his friends, Pope Francis said.

“Friendship is not the fruit of calculation, nor of compulsion, it is born spontaneously when we recognize something of ourselves in the other,” he said May 5. “Jesus, in the Bible, tells us that for him we are precisely this: friends, people beloved beyond all merit and expectation, to whom he extends his hand and offers his love, his grace, his word.”

Pope Francis smiles at people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the “Regina Coeli” at the Vatican May 5, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Before leading the “Regina Coeli” prayer in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from St. John in which Jesus tells the apostles, “I do not call you servants any longer, but friends.”

Jesus does not only want to entrust humanity with his mission of salvation, the pope said, “he wants more, something greater that goes beyond goods and plans themselves; it takes friendship.”

The pope asked people to think about the beauty of friendship that they experience throughout the course of their lives, from sharing toys as children and confiding secrets to one another as teenagers to exchanging joys and worries as adults and recounting memories together as seniors.

“Let us think a moment of our friends and thank the Lord for them,” he said.

In friendship, Jesus “shares what is dearest to him” with humanity, the pope said: “All that he has learned from the Father.”

Jesus is invested in his friendship with humanity “even to the point of making himself fragile for us, of placing himself in our hands, without defense or pretense, because he loves us,” he said. “The Lord loves us; as a friend he wants our good and he wants us to share in his.”

If a friendship is true, it is “so strong that is does not fail even in the face of betrayal,” he said, noting that Jesus calls Judas “friend” even after he had been betrayed.

“A true friend does not abandon you, even when you make mistakes: he corrects you, perhaps he reproaches you, but he forgives you and does not abandon you,” he said.

After reciting the “Regina Coeli” prayer, the pope asked Christians to pray for Ukraine, Palestine and Israel, “that there may be peace, that dialogue may be strengthened and bear good fruit. No to war, yes to dialogue!”