I have called you friends, for all that I “ve ever heard” from my Father I have made known to you.( John 15:15)
Friendships can be a source , is not simply of spiritual expansion, but too of immense enjoyment and comfort — and thus, the ending of a tie on bad words can be the cause of appreciable pain and sorrow. Arguments, objections, or misunderstands can resolve relations that had been life-giving and enriching.
If this has happened to you, take heart; some of the saints had this disappointed experience. The prime example of friendship’s coming to an purpose involves Jesus Himself — for one of His own adherents divulged Him.
When Judas Iscariot headed the tabernacle protect into the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest our Lord, Jesus addressed him as “friend”( Matt. 26:50) not ironically or sarcastically, but genuinely and lovingly. The Lord was willing to forgive Judas for what he was doing, but Judas refused; the relationship came to a tragic end — not because Jesus willed it so, but because Judas yielded in to despair after his act of betrayal and hanged himself.
Saints& Strained Friendships
Several instances of tightened ties among the saints have been recorded. St. Paul and St. Barnabas were close friends. Surely, it was Barnabas who established Paul to St. Peter and the other Apostles.
Barnabas’s acceptance of Paul facilitated the other early Christians overcome their feeling of this former persecutor of the Church, and the two apostles were chosen by the Holy Spirit to go forth together as preachers. Barnabas had his young cousin St. Mark accompany them; however, during the journey, Mark turned back for some unknown reason( Acts 13:13) which raged Paul. When the two apostles were preparing for another missionary journey, Barnabas again wanted to make Mark along, but Paul, recollecting the youth’s earlier inconstancy, would not permit it, and this led to a temporary falling out between the two friends.
In the fourth century, St. Heliodorus assembled St. Jerome in Italy, and became a disciple and eventually a friend of the great scholar .; he even cured finance Jerome’s translation of the Bible into Latin, the common communication of the day.( This rendition, requested by Pope St. Damasus, became known as the Vulgate .) When Jerome and his disciples went to the Holy Land, Heliodorus followed, although he refused to join them in a life of seclusion in the desert, because he felt that God wasn’t calling him to that life.
Jerome, who was known for his fierce mood, was very upset by this and berated Heliodorus in an impassioned symbol. Heliodorus returned to Italy and was appointed bishop of the small town of Altino; from there he substantiated a generous and forgiving nature by continuing to send financial support to Jerome.
This article is an excerpt from Saintly Solutions to Life’s Common Problems.
Saints Basil& Gregory
Sometimes personality divergences can tighten affections. The classic lesson of this involves the fourth-century saints Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus.
Basil was outgoing, cogent, and judged; Gregory was sensitive, shy, and retiring. Both humankinds had been consecrated pastors — Basil very willingly, Gregory very reluctantly — and both retired to a monastery for a experience. In 370, Basil was appointed Bishop of Caesarea, and he proved to be well suited for an active role in defending Church teaching against the heresies of the day.
Two year later, he, in turn, equipped his willing friend Gregory as Bishop of Sasima. But, instead of going there, Gregory remained in Nazianzus to help his father, who was bishop there( in the early days of the Church, celibacy was not required of clergy ). This greatly indignation Basil, who was perhaps used to getting his own method in such matters. Eventually, however, the two friends were reconciled, and had this reconciliation not happened during their earthly lives, we can be sure it would have happened in Heaven.
Friendship is a gift from God; really, according to St. Aelred of Rievaulx, “God is friendship.” That’s why St. Francis de Sales could say, “Friendships begun in this world will be taken up again, never to be broken off.” This thought may be a consolation if you’re saddened over the end of a once-satisfying friendship; you have the assurance that in the field of God, all interrupted rapports will be healed and perfected.( If you don’t want to reestablish a relationship with someone, even in Heaven, you had better start praying for a change of heart — for the only way to avoid knowing and cherishing person in heaven is for one or both of you to miss out on God’s kingdom .)
Our friends are supposed to help us grow in holiness, and we’re to do the same for them. Helping one another to grow in holiness may sometimes call for fraternal adjustment, although in this regard, St. Francis Xavier admonishes, “The better friends you are, the straighter you can talk, but while you are only on nodding periods, be slow to scold.”
Our concern for our friends’ spiritual well-being always involves the risk that they’ll be offended by us or upset with us, but every love — even a shattered one — can prove to be a blessing when seen from the viewpoint of eternity.
Further Reflection from the Saints
“Particularly when I am worn out by the disturbances of the world, I shed myself without reservation on the adoration of those who are especially close to me. I is a well-known fact that I can safely entrust my thoughts and reflections to those who are aflame with Christian love and have become faithful friends to me. For I am entrusting them not to another human, but to God, in whom they dwell and by whom they are what they are.” — St. Augustine
“For those who live in the world and desire to embrace true morality, it is necessary to unite together in holy, sacred friendship.” — St. Francis de Sales
“If a person were to suffer offenses, thumps, and imprisonment for one of his friends, how disturbed he would be to know that his friend retained nothing of it and did not even want to hear people talk about it. On the other hand, how pleased would he be to know that his friend always spoke tenderly about it and often thanked him for it. Thus Jesus Christ is greatly delighted when we recall with gentle gratitude His anguishes and the distress and death that He accepted for us.” — St. Alphonsus Liguori( Each meter we are treated naughtily by a friend, we might ask ourselves how we’ve been discussing the greatest Friend of all .)
Something You Might Try
St. Augustine says,
When we are provoked by poverty, upset by bereavement, complaint, or in pain, let good friends visit us. Let them be persons who not only can rejoice with those who rejoice but can weep with those who weep. Let them be persons who know how to give handy advice and how to earn us to express our own feelings in conversation.
You should strive to be the good friend Augustine speaks of, even to your onetime friends — especially when they experience misfortune. This will be a sign of genuine Christian charity on your constituent, and, in the case of a broken friendship, it may even utter reconciliation possible.
It’s important to maintain a altruistic heart toward former friends, even if they act unjustly toward you. When St. Thomas More was condemned to death for refusing to accept the invalid matrimony of King Henry VIII, he told us to his referees — some of whom had been friends and collaborators:
“As St. Paul contained the clothes of those who stoned Stephen to fatality, and as they are both now friends in Heaven and shall continue there as friends forever, so I certainly trust and will most heartily cry, that although your lordships have now here on earth been guess to my censure, we may nevertheless hereafter meet in Heaven in everlasting salvation.”
This article is an excerpt from Fr. Esper’s Saintly Solutions to Life’s Common Problems. It is available from Sophia Institute Press.
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