Friday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
A kind mouth multiplies friends and appeases enemies, and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings. Let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant.
Someone once asked me, “Father, how many friends do you have?” I thought about it for a while and finally said: “Friends? Real friends? Maybe one or two.”
Now in our age of Facebook and Twitter, where people have “millions” of followers, friends or fans, it may come as a surprise that someone like me could have so few friends. But this isn’t something new. This is something eternally true. Nobody has a million friends. Nobody. And woe to the child or adult who believes they do! They are in for a surprise.
In these past few days, the Old Testament readings have been ideal for kids and graduating teens. These readings couldn’t have come at a better time for them: right before summer and right before departure.
Look and read how wise (and cautious) our ancestors were; how true (and clear) their words of wisdom were. They may actually be more profound, more meaningful, more relevant and applicable than ever before, especially in today’s confused world of friendships and relationships.
Teens seek sound advice but have a hard time finding it. Often times, they seek where they know best: among their peers and among the “stars.” When they do seek it from their parents, often times they find them just as confused as they are. True, it’s not always like this, but far too often it is.
Technology may have changed, but people haven’t changed. They still have the same needs, same temptations, same desires and same fears as they had before. What has changed is the amount of time we spend reflecting, listening, and observing. Our ancestors were wise because they reflected. They were wise because they were not so much interested in being kind and blurry with their children, but loving and honest to them.
When you gain a friend, first test him. Like all relationships, even friendships must go through fire; and believe me when I tell you; you don’t have to set any fires. Fires are like life challenges: a part of life. But how else can we grow? How else will we mature? Challenges are a great way to go deeper into a relationship; to experience a rebirth in your marriage and in your very own life.
But beware: “For one sort is a friend when it suits him, but he will not be with you in times of distress. Another is a friend who becomes an enemy, and tells of the quarrel to your shame. Another is a friend, a boon companion, who will not be with you when sorrow comes. When things go well, he is your other self, and lords it over your servants; but if you are brought low, he turns against you and avoids meeting you” (Sir 6:5-17).
I know of a person who sought me out for assistance. I didn’t seek them. At first I was reluctant to get involved, but they insisted, and so I tried to help. I spent countless hours mentoring them. Finally, I had to tell them that I didn’t think they were cut out for the job. Well, they took offense at that and it didn’t take long for them to go to my boss and complain about me. I couldn’t believe it! I had spent hours with them. I took time out for them. And what did I get for it: a complaint.
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. What does this tell you? Treasures are rare. And they are not easily found. One must “dig” deep for them. The same goes for friendship. Faithful friends are beyond price. They are hard to come by. One must work hard at it.
But friends are not necessarily found; they are earned. And like I would often tell my students: “You might not find a good friend, but you can definitely be a good friend to others.”