Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Faithful Friends

In a few months, I am going to traveling to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis with a bunch of high school teens from my parish.  The kids designed a parish t-shirt to wear as a group on one of the days of the conference.   They are bright florescent green shirts.  On the back is a cross and the writing, "NCYC 2011 . . . And remember I am with you always to the end of the age.  Matthew 28:20."  On the front they say, "Faithful friends are beyond price; no amount can balance their worth."  

I saw a couple of the teens wearing them at our parish picnic a couple weeks ago and thought about the phrase on the front.  "Faithful friends are beyond price."  My first thoughts were that of course it is good to have friends who are faithful and loyal to you.  No one wants to have a friend that they can't trust or who will talk about them behind their back.  No.  You want a friend who is going to be there when you are in need.  You want a friend who you can talk to.  A friend who has your back.

And then it struck me--faithful friends who are beyond price goes way beyond someone who isn't going to tell your deepest darkest secrets.  Faithful friends are friends with faith.   Once I realized this the second part of the phrase, "no amount can balance their worth" made even more sense.   A friend with faith is someone who is going to be more loyal to God than to you.   This means that they are going to have your best interest at heart because they will want to see you in Heaven along side of them.  They are going to have the fortitude to tell you that you are doing something wrong.

The image of the men who carried their friend, the paralytic to Jesus and lowered him through the hole in the ceiling is what I always have in mind.   That is the type of friend I want to be--someone who will carry my friends to Jesus no matter how difficult.  And that's the type of friends I want to have.   Someone who is a good model for me and who is willing to tear a roof in a ceiling and go through whatever difficulty they may face to get me to Jesus.

This doesn't mean that you can only be friends with the best Christians.   You can still be friends with atheists.  You can still be friends with people of different faiths.  Heck, you can even be friends with protestants.  ;-)  You may just have to be more careful with friends who do not share your faith in God.  They may be great people who live in ways that are pleasing to God.  On the other hand, they may profess to be Christian and not living in a way that is pleasing to God.  You just have to be careful with friends who are more faithful to themselves or even more faithful to you than they are to God.  You may be put in an awkward situation where you have to tell your friend that you can't do something with them or that their behavior is not something that you approve of.

There is a saying that a good friend will bond you out of jail.  A fantastic friend will be sitting next to you in jail cell saying, "that was awesome!"   Well, I say that a true, fantastic, faithful friend is one what will be sitting next to you in Heaven saying, "isn't this awesome?"

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