In Jesus Christ we are friends3 and brothers and sisters4. Likewise, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux believed that friendship should be understood in the context of our relationship with God; friendship, he said, is not just a relationship between myself and the All-Powerful, but it extends and encompasses my brothers and sisters. Saint Aelred of Rievaulx saw friendship in a similar fashion, but also expressed in reverse: we know God’s love through the love we get from others, particularly those whom we call friends. Saint Francis of Assisi embodied fully this manifestation of Christ’s love for humanity and man’s love for neighbor as he took on a lifestyle of humility, chastity and poverty; he saw in “brother sun and sister moon”, and all of nature the expression of The Creator.
Friendship involves a profound understanding of who Christ is because He is the perfect friend; friendship is therefore united to prayer. In so far as I come to God and dialogue with Him, I will discover who He is and consequently who I am. My identity is found in Christ and a relationship rooted in prayer helps me grow in that understanding of Him and myself. Likewise, Christ is also found in my neighbor, in my friends and my so-called enemies. To truly love Christ and know the magnitud of God’s love is to love and be loved by those around me. In friendship, we can come to experience the fullness of our love for God.
Christ gave His life for all people, without distinction. To know Jesus Christ is to love as He does. That is, to know the love of God is to love without measure, it is to look beyond the differences I may have with others, even beyond their sins. Christ calls us friends, not because we are good or holy, but because He wants to make us good and holy. Intimate spiritual friendships lead us to holiness because they are rooted in Christ Himself.
Honestly, I need to work on learning how to be a good friend. I cannot say that I have been the best friend I know I can be. I find pleasure in spending time alone. So, there are many challenges that I need to overcome on a personal level. If I keep encountering God through prayer, I will be able to love my greatest enemy – myself – and will then be able to overcome personal habits that keep me from drawing closer to those around me.
By Edgar Avendano @latinofilmmaker
1 Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None.
2 Matthew 5:44-45, NIV.
3 John 14-15
4 Matthew 12:49-50