Having friends? Or being a friend?


May 15, 2020 Friday 5th Week of Easter – Memorial of St. Isidore the Farmer

Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051520.cfm)

How many friends do you have in your Facebook account? Or in your other social media accounts? Certainly, those who have fb account or accounts have hundreds of friends. Others even have a thousand or more friends. Well, a Facebook account has a limit of 5000 friends. But, do we really consider every person there, in our account, as a “friend?”

Today, the word “friend” is differently understood. Our friends in our social media accounts are actually our contacts. However, having those “friends” does not mean that we have a personal relationship with them. Perhaps, to some people, but mostly, we don’t, because among the thousands of friends we have, many can be are acquaintances at school, at work, business or during our summer vacations and trips.

It has become so common to have such tendency to accumulate friends, to make and have friends, to be socially connected with others through the internet, and to be identified by the people to whom we make contacts.

Aside from this, there is also another form making friends which can be toxic. It means that such form of relationship is only based on advancing one’s self-interest. Such form of friendship is commonly called as “alliance.” Such alliance protect and promote one another’s interest no matter how selfish and oppressive it could be. It does not look on how one will be able to give life to other in a self-sacrificing manner. It is inclined on what and how I could benefit, gain favor and advance my interests and agenda.

Thus, we might have become more conscious of having friends, affiliate or make an ally ourselves with others rather than “being a friend.”

To have friends and to be a friend have different natures. To have friends has the tendency to be self-absorbed, self-conscious and selfish because this attitude looks inward. However, to be a friend is an action that comes with commitment. It is self-giving and self-sacrificing. Hence, this attitude is other-oriented and life-giving.

This is the kind of friendship that Jesus is talking about in the Gospel. Jesus calls each of us to be his friends. The friendship that Jesus offers is self-giving and self-sacrificing. Jesus commits himself to us as our friend. His commitment is summed up in his love for you and for me by offering himself to the cross on our behalf. 

Thus, the friendship of Jesus is not about using us or so that he may get something from us. His friendship with us is about giving oneself. Through this friendship, he calls us as his friends, not slaves, not mere acquaintances or contacts, or allies.

This is how we remember today St. Isidore, a Spanish Farmer who was a friend to many, to humans and to animals. His simplicity and hard labor became a way where he grew in his friendship with the Lord. It was said that he would always spend much time in the Church to commune with Jesus. And as the story about him circulated, an angel would instead plow the field while Isidore was in the Church. Other miracle stories became popular also as Isidore would give his bread to the hungry without running out of supply of bread.

These stories tell us that such friendship with Jesus makes us more aware of the needs of others. Moreover, to become a friend of Jesus makes us a friend to everybody. With Isidore, he was a great friend who gave life to people and to the nature.

St. Isidore, the Farmer (image from Aleteia.com)

This is Jesus’ invitation to each of us now, that you and me will grow in that friendship with Him. Thus, we are called to develop our personal and intimate friendship with Jesus through our constant “chats” expressed through our prayers and this Eucharist. Friendship grows when we come to know each other both our pain and joys, failures and dreams. 

And because this friendship gives life, our friendship with Jesus should also inspire us “to become real friends with others.” Yes, you and me who are friends of Jesus are called to be a friend of everyone and to express the same love that we have felt from Jesus by giving ourselves too, to “shout out” the goodness that the Lord has revealed to us and “to post what’s on our mind and heart” so that others may know and grow also in their friendship with Jesus.

In times such as this pandemic, our friendship could be one of the best comforts we could offer to those who are distressed, anxious and in need. Thus, maximize also this Community Quarantine by making sure that you parents will become best friends of your children, and children to their parents, siblings to siblings, and to the rest of the people around you.

So, friends of Jesus – go and be a friend to others!

Hinaut pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR

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