A Friend

The mother cleaned out the leftovers from the refrigerator. She gave one remaining portion of tortellini to their 6-year-old son, Jeremy. Obviously Gilbert, two years older, wanted some also! So bickering ensued… normal hassles of an ordinary family. Trying to avoid a mini civil war, the father intervened. Seeing that all his political attempts were unsuccessful, he tried the theological approach.

Sharing with others is very Christian! So he asked Jeremy, "Son, what would Jesus do in this situation?" The answer came out quickly and clearly, "Oh, Dad, He would just make more!?"

Yes, that is exactly what Jesus would do. Jesus would just make more! He is so generous. He is such a good friend! The "Akathist to the Sweetest Lord, Jesus Christ", an Eastern Orthodox hymn of the 6th century, defines Jesus Christ as "My Savior, Friend of man."

We have a friend, a constant and reliable friend. When here on earth, Jesus gave friendship a face of flesh; He loved the young rich man, He loved Lazarus tenderly, he endeared himself to Martha and Mary. With his close friends, Jesus shared His trials, the secrets of His Father and he even entrusted his best friend to His very own mother.

Henri Nouwen, a magnificent priest and author, once wrote this precious gem about friendship. "When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advise, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair and confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares." Jesus Christ is all this and more.

Her name was Rose and she loved roses. So her husband made it a point of sending roses to her every Valentine's Day. Even the year he died, the roses came with the usual card saying "Be my Valentine!" He must have ordered the roses in advance, she thought to herself. He always liked to do things early, way before the time.

However she was dumbfounded when the next year at Valentine's Day, the doorbell rang, and again there were the red roses, sitting by her door. She immediately phoned the florist shop wondering what was happening.

The explanation was simple. Apparently her husband left a standing order, paid in advance to send flowers every year. "And there is another thing that you should know. A couple of years ago, he wrote a card, asking me to give it to you when I hear that he is gone. I shall send it right away."

The note was simple. Written in his own handwriting, it said, "Hello my love, I know it's been a year since I've been gone. It must have been very hard and rather lonely. The pain must be real. I understand, because if it was the other way, I know how I would feel. The love we shared made everything so beautiful in life. You were my friend and lover… I am so grateful to God for giving you to me. I want you to be happy, even when you shed your tears. That is why the roses will be sent to you for years. When you get these roses, think of all the happiness, that we had together, and how both of us were blessed. I have always loved you and I know I always will. … The roses will come every year, and they will only stop when your door is not answered. Then, the florist has instructions to come five times that day, just in case you have gone out. But after his last visit, he will know without a doubt, to take the roses to the place, where I've instructed him, and place the roses where we are, together once again."

Human friendship is beautiful. However it always remains limited. This is why all saints found what every human heart desires in another Man, in Jesus Christ. In Him, they found a faithful friend that is priceless for "he loves at every moment", "making life sweet". This person-to-person relationship is so evident in Saint Teresa of Jesus.

"When I see You near me I have seen all blessings. No trial has come to me that I cannot gladly bear when I look at You as You stood before Thy judges. With so good a Friend, so good a Captain at our side, Who came forward first of all to suffer, one can bear everything. He helps us; He gives us strength; He never fails; He is a true Friend."

Sometimes in life, you find a special friend, someone who changes your life just by being part of it. Someone who makes you laugh until you can't stop, someone who makes you believe that there really is good in the world. Someone who convinces you that there really is an unlocked door just waiting for you to open it.

Jesus Christ is one such friend. Perhaps the only such friend.

(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.