“For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” The touching story of Ruth and Naomi found in our First Reading from the Old Testament highlights the great joy and value of true friendship in our lives. In the wake of famine and the shadow of death, commitment and confidence describe the fruits of a loving friendship that seeks the best of and for the other. This particular passage is often quoted in may different kinds of genres and literary circles, even highlighted in a famous movie about thirty years ago (Fried Green Tomatoes); but all too often the last line of the beautiful sentiment. “Your God will be my God” is omitted or forgotten.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This is why the Gospel of today makes the complete point about the endearing and enduring nature of true friendship. Unless it lasts into eternity, it will remain on the level acquaintance or passing memories of a long life. The entire wealth of the Law and thus our true way back to Heaven to live forever with God is summarized beautifully when we first love God with all our being and then love our neighbor as ourselves. The Lord creates a lasting bond that is forever, precisely because He is forever. Today give thanks to God for your friends and if time allows, call them and let them know how much you appreciate them in your life.
And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends
Michael W. Smith