The weather has been rather wintry the last few days, so I've had to postpone my long walks through the fields until Spring returns. Since it is Holy Week I've been using the time to think about what Our Lord was doing during the days before Good Friday. And it occurred to me that, though He prepared for His public life by fasting and praying alone in the desert, He readied Himself for all of the torments of His Passion by spending that time in the company of His friends.
What a thought: that Our Lord especially befriended mortal men, choosing only a small number from among their fellows, preferring them to others in this special way. And their presence is what He wanted , even needed in His human nature, to help sustain Him for the combat which lay ahead. The friends of God, and He so drawn to them that He asked the three who were dearest to Him to watch and pray with Him as He endured His agony in the garden--it is an amazing thing to ponder. Three times He came to them then, His humanity crying out in loneliness and dread, showing how much He longed for their company, how highly He valued their friendship.
We creatures, too, cry out in our loneliness and dread. We were not made to be alone; we crave the company of others. And so God places us in families so that we will not be alone. As time passes, these family members then leave home to form new families, each becoming its own new family. These blood-ties remain, yet they also change. It is not so with friendship.
The family is a gift from God; but a friend is also His gift, one which all men seek but so few find. A friend is not tied by blood but by a bond which may be as deep, and is sometimes deeper. Our lives here are so brief, and the moments are so much more precious when shared with a friend. How true it is that in the company of a true friend the hours pass like minutes!
I thought of all that a friend is-- and that is so very much. A friend is "another self", someone who "loves at all times." Every man is our neighbor, but only those certain few can truly be called friend. Friendship comes from God's love; and it is He whom we see and love in our friend. And Our Lord Himself is our greatest friend: "greater love than this no man hath than that He gives His life for His friends."
And so I will try to remember these things, especially on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, when the true friends of Our Lord were so few in number. And I will pray especially then for my friends who are, with my family, my greatest treasures.