Contemplation: A Friend of a Friend

Contemplation: A Friend of a Friend

Contemplation: A Friend of a Friend 747 747 SVDP USA

Have you ever had a friend with very different interests than your own? Maybe he was a big baseball fan, and you just didn’t follow that sport, or he had a great appreciation for art, but you couldn’t stand museums. How did that affect your friendship? Often, over time, we find that our own interests start to converge with those of our friends; we begin to appreciate the art or the sport or the hobby that animates our friends. We go to a ball game, or watch it on TV, and even begin to cheer for our friend’s team. And why wouldn’t we? We are interested because they are interested. It’s one of the ways we naturally show our friendship and our love.

There is, Our Savior tells us, no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friends. As a result, St. Vincent asks, “Can we have a better friend than God?” And if He is our friend, “Must we not love all that He loves and, for love of Him, consider our neighbor as our friend!” [CCD XI:39]

It turns out that God, our best friend, has a more fanatical love for the neighbor than any sports fan has for his favorite team. As St. Catherine of Siena put it, God is pazzo d’amore, ebro d’amore (crazy in love, drunk with love) for each and every one of us! If we can watch the game with our friend, we can love the neighbor for our God — it should be completely natural for us to do so. This is exactly what the words of our catechism mean when they call us to love God above all things for His own sake, and the neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. St. John even went so far as to say that “whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen”.

We may begin our service solely to fulfill our duty to Christ’s instruction, but if we love God, if we truly seek to make His will our own, we will find that we cannot help but begin to share His passions. God loves the neighbor; He is rooting for the neighbor; He is weeping for the neighbor. As His beloved friends, how can we not devote ourselves just as passionately to that same neighbor?

We see then, that it is our friendship with God that leads us to friendship with the neighbor; to what the Rule calls a “relationship based on trust and friendship”. [Rule, Part I, 1.9] Yet true friendships are mutual, and so, as Frédéric put it, the neighbor “whom you love loves you in return.” [O’Meara, 177] What is our passion that the neighbor might begin to share?

We often say that we evangelize through our actions, that we show the beauty of our faith through our example. If this truly is so, then our love for God should be as obvious as our friend’s team jersey on game day. In our manner and in our actions, the love of God and for God should illuminate every home visit, shining forth in our gentleness, simplicity, and humble service. Through us, God arrives as a friend of a friend, and we welcome each neighbor into our circle of friends.


Does my friendship invite the neighbor to friendship with God?

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