The challenge of friendship


Matthew 6:14-21

Christ spoke the truth when He said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Knowing full well our attachment to our treasures, He instructs us not to lay up for ourselves “treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19:20)

Because we cling so forcefully to our temporary and corruptible treasures we cannot soar into heaven for our attachment to earthly treasures prevent us from even walking as humans should on the earth, upright and with a light step. They oppress us with their weight and tie us down to the earth and corruption.

Man betrayed and sold God for thirty silver pieces. Today as yesterday, many will sell their soul to the devil for a handful of dollars, neglecting their marriages, their families, their friends and ultimately their own soul.

These are difficult and cumbersome times and there is very little true joy in us. We own all kinds of material things, we have many possessions and a good part of these are totally unnecessary. But there is less and less joy within and around us. The more we have, the less happy we are.

Why is this?

Christ opens our eyes by telling us the truth about ourselves: our hearts are where our treasure is. Treasure is cold and lifeless. So are our hearts. We have sacrificed them towards our treasures and we have no more left to give to others. Only sometimes we reminisce with sadness how once upon a time we barely had clothes on our backs and shoes on our feet, how we were mostly hungry, yet there was joy and happiness and we were content with what little we had. More friendly words were said between us and about us. We gathered together and rejoiced in these gatherings. We earnestly inquired about our friends’ health and progress and were genuinely glad when someone crossed the threshold of our home. Now we talk to ourselves, we are self-sufficient and very often we are fed up with ourselves. We are preoccupied with our accounts and interests. We only allow into our immediate thoughts and activities that which is directly associated with our interest.

We have all but lost our feeling for true friendship, the kind of friendship that one invests and nurtures and makes sacrifices for without interest or expectations.

Without mutual love and friendship our life is even more depressing and unbearable. In order to bring some joy back into our life we must renew our friendships. Even the all-powerful and omnipotent Lord had friends. “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. “ (Exodus 33:11)  And Abraham has been called the Friend of God. (James 2:23) Christ called His disciples friends on many occasions. He did not conceal His feeling of friendship towards others either. It was thanks to the presence of sincere friends, the apostles were able to come out of many situations with their heads on heir shoulders.

We have significantly lost our faith in our friends and in friendship. Even if someone attempts to approach us, we often scrutinize our memory and subconscious mind in order to find a possible reason why this person would want to befriend us. Not even the tops secret service agents have as many spies spying on us as we do! We seem to forget, or perhaps we do not want to remember that there is such a thing as true friendship.

In spite of possible risks, one should take the challenge of friendship, just to see what the result will be. “There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother”, said the wise Solomon (Proverbs 18:24). Why not believe the word of God? A friend is a friend at all times, but in adversity a friend surpasses pure friendship and becomes a brother (Proverbs 17:17). I came to this conclusion while reading the Holy Scripture. Solomon goes so far as to say that when misfortunes strike, one does not go to one’s father or brother, but first to a friend. He says that “better is a neighbor that is near than a brother far off.” (Proverbs 27:10)

Friendship must be nurtured and protected. We must invest in our friendships and sacrifice ourselves for them. A friend is someone we should protect and cherish. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend,” (Proverbs 27:17) says the Scripture. And St. Paul the apostle says: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” (Romans 12:10)

Love is the noblest of virtues and the height of heights of this virtue is when we are ready to sacrifice for our friends. For only through sacrifice is friendship tested and tempered. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends,” said the Lord Jesus Christ. (John 15:13)

Our thoughts and feelings have been revealed and disclosed. It is true that our heart is where our temporary and fleeting earthly treasure lies.

Let us draw our hearts away. There will always be earthly treasures. Let us rekindle old friendships, and in so doing, make our lives happier and more purposeful, and more pleasing to God!