My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Saturday's Reading from the Gospel of John quoted our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ as having said that "... the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11). In another place the same Gospel also quotes the Lord as having said that, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends" (John 15:13).
This is who Christ is to us, He is our True Shepherd, who is our True Friend who loved us so much that He was willing even to be crucified on the Cross to save us. The Greek word φιλάνθρωπος, where we get the English word philanthropist, is usually translated, when referring to Christ in the prayers of the Church, as the Lover of Mankind. This is inaccurate as φίλος means friend and άνθρωπος means human. We could translate φιλάνθρωπος as philanthropist, but the English word now includes the connotation that the person is a Financial Benefactor of different causes as such. So it would be best to translate φιλάνθρωπος as Friend of Humankind or mankind. So Christ is our True Friend, our Best Friend and to use a modern expression, Who was willing to "take a bullet for us." What a great example He has given us of True Friendship! There is an expression, and I'm sure you have heard it before, "You know a person by his or her friends."
Without realizing it, close friends influence each other. If Christ is our True Friend, and we become close to Him through the Sacraments and through Prayer, surely we will also start to resemble Him also! We will be influenced by Christ. In fact this is what the Mouthpiece of the Lord, Apostle Paul, urges us to do, to imitate him as he imitated Christ (1 Corinthians 11). So in all things, we should imitate Christ just as the Saints did (Look at where it got them!). This is made easier by yoking ourselves to Christ through the Sacramental life of the Church, as then Christ our True Friend works hand and hand with us and helps us do good in the world.