Pleasant speech multiplies friends, and gracious lips, friendly greetings.
Let those who are friendly to you be many, but one in a thousand your confidant.
When you gain friends, gain them through testing, and do not be quick to trust them.
For there are friends when it suits them, but they will not be around in time of trouble.
Another is a friend who turns into an enemy, and tells of the quarrel to your disgrace.
Others are friends, table companions, but they cannot be found in time of affliction.
When things go well, they are your other self, and lord it over your servants.
If disaster comes upon you, they turn against you and hide themselves.
Stay away from your enemies, and be on guard with your friends.
Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price, no amount can balance their worth.
Faithful friends are life-saving medicine; those who fear God will find them.
Those who fear the Lord enjoy stable friendship, for as they are, so will their neighbors be. (Sirach 6:5-17)
The book of Sirach offers all of us rich wisdom and is one of my favorite books in the Bible to contemplate.
My human weakness, tested against the storms of time, often fails to live up to a professed Christianity. Perhaps, Sirach will light a path for future "adjustments" in behavior. Lent, being a time of repentance and reflection, is an excellent time to reread this prophetic text and measure my actions against it.
JMJ, pray for us!
The verses quoted above remind me of the wise words of a good priest and friend. A few years back he gave me great advice, "Everyone needs close friends, but a only very few in number." He went on to explain that we should keep our closest relationships to a few.
Even Christ, who was both God and man, desired to have close friendships. It is clear from the New Testament that Christ reserved his closest friendships for Peter, James and John. Jesus' own actions give us a guide to friendships their value and limitations. At the foot of the cross, of the three, only John remained steadfast.
As I reread the verses quoted above, one phrase stands out amongst the others:
Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure. (Sirach 6-14)
The words "sturdy shelter" defines, for me, what it means to be a true friend. This measurement of friendship reveals itself in our most difficult of times. At the foot of the cross St. John stood by Jesus in his most difficult hour.
As we search for true friendship, our search should include Jesus. He will always measure up to this test of friendship. His friendship is a gift of grace freely given to all of us who seek it.
A friendship with Christ is a relationship developed over time and tested by storms. Jesus will always be there for us
God is good.