If you want to know whom you truly consider a friend, ask yourself the following question: if your car broke down by the side of the road at 2 a.m. and you knew you couldn’t call a family member, who would you call?
Or imagine you needed $500 tomorrow with no questions asked and no guarantee that the money would be repaid—who would you call?
That person is your closest and truest friend.
We have circles of friendship that are circles of increasing intimacy and trust.
On the outer circle we have acquaintances. These are people we know by name, we may know their children’s names, and when we see each other we talk about the weather and the Colts.
Then we have the circle of friends, people about whom we know more detail, perhaps we know some of the major struggles in their lives like a divorce or an addiction, and with whom we would enjoy going to the movies on Friday night or having a dinner party together.
Side note: think about how many people here at church are in the acquaintance circle and how many are in the friends circle as I have just described them.
Part of our work as Christian community is working together to move with each other from the acquaintance circle to the friends circle, with the added ingredient of spiritual intimacy.
So we not only know some of the griefs and struggles and joys of the people around us in the pews, we know how those events have impacted their faith and their growth in relationship with God.
But there is a closer circle even than the friends circle, and that is the true friends, the dearest friends, the best friends.
These are the ones that you call at 2 a.m. when you’re broken down by the side of the road.
These are the ones that can show up at your house and you don’t worry about the clutter or the fact that you’re wearing ratty old sweatpants and no makeup.
These are the ones that you simply cannot b.s. because they see right through you.
These friends are the ones we drop our masks for, and expect them to drop their masks in return.
These relationships contain the most sacred intimacy outside our immediate family relationships, and the best family relationships have these elements of friendship.
We sometimes call these people soul friends, anam cara in Gaelic.
They know the secrets and fears and joys of our inmost hearts, and we know theirs. We hold those secrets and hears and joys in our very hands, and we trust our friend to hold ours with the same care and love.
Now consider the words of Jesus in our gospel today: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you.” Continue reading