No human relationship is all that it ought to be until it has been elevated to the level of friendship. You and I may be neighbours in the sense that we live in close proximity but that can be problematic unless we are also friends. Perhaps the nearest and dearest of all human relationships is the bond between parents and their children. That natural relationship will fall short of fulfilment unless they learn to see each other also as friends. No human relationship is all that it ought to be without this blend of respect, affection and trust that ties people together in friendship.
This Sunday’s Gospel tells of the time Jesus called the disciples ‘friends.’ With the cross only hours away, he said: ‘There is no greater love than this – to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ Then he spoke even more personally and said: “You are my friends.” In the life of Jesus friendship played a positive role and was part of the strength that enabled him to face the cross with unfailing courage.
In a world that is becoming ever more impersonal, when even in big cities the great enemy is loneliness, we all need friends more than we realise. Friendship is one of the few places left in the world where we can really relax, let it all hang out and be ourselves for a change. People nowadays complain about a lack of identity. Perhaps what they are really suffering from is loss of friends. A friend loves us even when we do not deserve it. A friend forgives us when we cannot demand it. A friend believes in us even when we do not believe in ourselves. That is friendship at it best and it is the only power in earth that can truly conquer the human heart. Fr John