IT may be considered trite and so ordinary to be given any serious thought. But given the temper of the times that despite our powerful means of communication we can still notice a surge of division, isolation and alienation among ourselves, I believe it’s high time we give some sober attention to this need.
In fact, we may have to discover new ways of growing in friendliness because the old and the traditional ways can already be considered passé or inadequate, considering the way people and things in general are now.
We have to learn to be friendly all the time. And that friendliness has to grow, because with the multiplying variety, differences and conflicts among us, we cannot afford to think that we are already friendly enough because we already have some friends, and perhaps we can even enjoy a good number of friends. These facts should not blunt our need to grow in friendliness.
We have to be more keenly aware that times are changing and the developments around are galloping like hell. These conditions definitely have great impact on us, making us realize that not only do we have the usual generation gaps, but also gaps among the different sectors of the same community and society. Even within the family, these gaps among the members can be readily observed.
Of course, within oneself, we can already notice sharp division. Remember St. Paul lamenting about the conflict between the law governing his flesh and that of the mind. (cfr. Rom 7,23) We have to establish friendship even among the different parts of our personal life. This need, I believe, should be attended to first before we can expect some success in our effort to be friendly with others.
I believe that friendship has to start, first of all, with God, since he is not only the Creator but also the one who puts us all together as one family, united in his love. We can only be friendly to others to the extent that we are friends of God.
Besides, God is the one who will guarantee the authenticity of our friendliness to others. Outside of him, our friendliness would be fake, shallow and one that cannot go the distance. It cannot handle all the requirements of true friendship which has to go all the way to bringing us to heaven, and not just to some earthly well-being.
Definitely, with God as the principle of our friendliness, we would know what is truly and ultimately important in all our relationships with others. Yes, if we are friendly we would be interested in seeking what is good and would bring joy to our friends in terms of earthly and temporal values. But it is the ultimate spiritual and supernatural good that we would be most interested, for which everything else has to be subordinated.
In this regard, we should realize that our friendliness is not just a matter of developing social skills, of being amiable and approachable, though definitely these are also very important.
It should first of all be a matter of prayer and sacrifice, of having recourse to the sacraments where we can clearly receive the grace that is indispensable in our quest for friendship. It will definitely demand struggle to develop the different virtues that will liken us to God and enable us to adapt to others.
It’s when our friendliness is inspired by our faith and love for God, by our effort to identify ourselves with Christ that we can echo Christ’s words: “I have not called you servants, but my friends….” (Jn 15,15)
If we are to be true friends to our friends, we should be like Christ who mediated and continues to mediate between God and man. This business of mediation should always be at the core of our dealings with friends, no matter how earthly and temporal the immediate reasons of our dealings with them are.