True Friendship: It’s a Divine Gift
There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship, said St Thomas Aquinas.
Recently a friend circulated an article on friendship which I found very moving and true. I thanked her for the article and told her that I appreciated it. She responded by saying: “My parents were an inspiration to my love of friendship. They were always promoting how important friendships are, and I am very blessed to have you three ladies in my life.”
Her message made me reflect for a moment on the friendships that I enjoy and the deep loss one can experience from losing a treasured friend.
Here follows a small extract from the article she sent us:
“After 50 years of life, here is what I learned: Time passes, life goes on, distance separates. Children grow up. Children cease to be children. They separate from their parents. They become independent. Children break our hearts. Jobs come and go. Illusions, desires, attraction, sex… weaken. People do not do what they should do. Colleagues forget the favours. People die. The race is over.
“But, true friends are always there, no matter how long or how many miles they are. A friend is never more distant than the reach of a need. Barring you, intervening in your favour, waiting for you with open arms or blessing your life.”
“When we started this adventure called LIFE, we did not know of the incredible joys or sorrows that were ahead. We did not know how much we would need from each other.”
I have observed many friendships and I have heard many people speak about their friendships over the years. What most people cherish within a friendship is that there is somebody to talk to, someone to depend on, and someone to enjoy. How beautiful and rare a gift this is!
Now I want to quote from an article called “Friendship according to Thomas Aquinas”, which highlights the basis of true friendship.
“Friendship involves a ‘mutual benevolent love on a common ground, and has as its normal rule unselfishness’. Taken from Genesis we know that it is not good for man to be alone. We are incomplete in ourselves. We want to share our lives with others both to expand our hearts and to receive help because of our smallness of heart.
“Human friendship has its limits, in giving, sharing and time. It has been so ordered by God that the human heart only can find its fulfilment of friendship in the Divine. With God the human limitations of friendship all disappear. “
The article continues: “God has infinite generosity and a creative love. He enables us to share in his inner life, which is the basis of the common ground of our friendship with him. This special friendship with God is called charity. This Divine friendship, which is charity, enables us to extend our love to everything belonging to God.
“Today many are looking only for human friendship and love, but apart from the Divine friendship. ‘The human heart today is seeking, as it never sought before…that fullness…which can come only with a friendship that is Divine. In other words, the world of today is hungry for charity’.”
What my friend’s article and St Thomas Aquinas’ views on friendship have in common is that friendship needs to be cherished and that it is about offering and giving. Aquinas says that we need a friendship with God first, the Divine Giver, and this will enable us to truly give of ourselves.
Having somebody to talk to, someone to depend on, and someone to enjoy, is indeed a gift — a divine gift. And so I fully agree with Aquinas that “there is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship”.