Someone once wrote that true friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. The advice is quite simple: Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island and thereby to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune and maintaining that friend, a blessing. If this is true, then we can learn much about the two different kinds of relationships we have placed before us in the Readings today. First, take a look at the people approaching Samuel demanding a king. On the surface, it seems like a reasonable request, but below the veneer, there is something almost criminal. God let us know exactly what was going on: “Grant the people’s every request. It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.” This breach of friendship would not end well for the elders. They may have learned too late that an honest enemy is always better than a friend who lies.
Then, paradoxically in the Gospel of today, we see another form of acting in a different kind of trusting, life-giving friendship: “They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the person with paralysis was lying.” This has to rank in the top ten most dramatic scenes of the New Testament. Visualize the moment, if you can. Four friends are convinced that if Jesus can just touch their friend, he will be saved. And he was. Note well that this act of friendship also moved Jesus because he noticed the faith of ALL the group of friends: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven.'”
This has ramifications for all of us. We are here to help each other, but more critically in the milieu created when we call someone a friend. With that comes true responsibility and care, yielding magnificent consequences. Pray for your friends today. Ask God to shine His face upon all of them. With friends like these, we may just, in fact, see God.
“To love another person is to see the face of God.” Victor Hugo