Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 345

A kind mouth multiplies friends and appeases enemies,
and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings.
Let your acquaintances be many,
but one in a thousand your confidant.

The beautiful word friend became a verb and took on an entirely different meaning when Facebook went on line several years ago. I suppose a generation of children is growing up thinking friends are people they “meet” on line in a virtual world of bits, bytes, zeroes and ones.
As different as their world might be, this generation would do well to read and discuss Jesus ben Sirach’s advice. If friend still means someone you can trust with personal information, someone who will not borrow your credit card, molest your fiancĂ©, spouse or children, or ask you to bail him out of jail, everyone should have one.

Christian friendship begins with Jesus’ words,
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.

People, in the Facebook universe, are monads incapable of union and their friendships are little more than amorous glances between passing strangers. Friends in such relationships are assured the universe will not collapse when they part; their love never mattered in the first place. In the Facebook world the only reality is the bottom line. 

Friendship among the disciples of Jesus begins with his commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Our communion is unto death. We receive one another as gifts from God, much as the Father gives us to Jesus and he, in turn, receives us as gifts from Jesus. Even as we offer the oblation of the Eucharist, Jesus offers us as an oblation to the Father. An oblation is a gift received; and then returned to the giver; and returned again to the receiver. It is a bond uniting both in intense, joyous, sacrificial love. Our covenant in God can no more be unfriended than marriage can be dissolved. 

Friendship as known to the Author of Ecclesiasticus finds its fulfillment in the discipleship of Jesus. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit. We don’t make friends; we offer and receive friendship with a grateful heart and a humble awareness of our unworthiness.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.