TOROK: The profound bond of a Christian friendship

August 13, 2019

There are many ways we can nurture a friendship in today’s world of social media. Friendships are what keep us from being lonely; they are a relationship that helps us enjoy life.

In my personal opinion, friendships that prevail over time are Christian friendships. What is a Christian friendship, and how is it unique to any other friendship?

A friendship can be a long-time relationship. It can also be a friendship that came of a brief, perhaps intense time in one’s journey. It can be a friendship where two people keep in touch often and throughout life. It can also be a friendship where they do not see each other often at all.

Yet, when those two people meet again, it is like no time elapsed since the last time they were together. Within a Christian friendship, two people may have prayed for each other or have done corporal or spiritual works of mercy together or for each other. Where there is goodness, there is God. Where there is love, there is God. Goodness and love are always present in an authentic Christian friendship.

I will occasionally run into a youth from many years before and strike up a conversation. The discussion always goes back to the times we spent together in youth ministry.

The conversation will move to questions about friends during the time of their ministry, recalling their friends by name, and smiling at the memories. Sometimes, friends will recount and relive the fun times had. Sometimes they may recount the difficult situations where they held each other, lifting the other through hardship.

Authentic to Christian friendship are the values of companionship, trust, mutuality, affection, service, prayer and goodness. These Christian values create and sustain a friendship. When moments in a friendship are remembered, one can feel that goodness and love shared all over again.

That goodness and love shared are there because Christ was and is present in that relationship.

More profoundly, we remember Christ at every Mass and during the Eucharist, when He is most present to us. He is the font and summit that gives us life and sustains us. He is the Christ in Christian friendship; the perfect goodness and perfect love; he calls us friend.

The uniqueness of Christian friendship assumes we bring Christ into the friendship, and we strive to be Christ-like to other people. We serve the other, not ourselves; we have to live outside our wants or needs. It means we hold each other in prayer by lifting each other to Christ for blessings.

St. Augustine sums up the meaning of Christian friendship beautifully: “For friendship cannot be true unless you solder it together among those who cleave to one another by love ‘poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.’” (Confessions 4.7, quoting Romans 5:5)

Norma Torok is an associate director of the Archdiocesan Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.