Today’s Gospel tells us that while persons who focus on self-gratification are very shrewd in their friendships, Christians must focus on being trustworthy, serving One Master. Here are a few of St. Francis de Sales’ thoughts on true friendship:
For true friendship to come into and remain in existence it calls for close communication between friends. When we have a high esteem for those we love, we open our heart to their friendship in a way that their inclinations, good or bad quickly enter into us. While a certain kind of bee seeks nothing but honey, unknowingly it sucks in the poisonous qualities of the plant it draws the honey from. Our Lord said to be good bankers and money changers. Don’t take in bad money along with the good. Hence, do not enter any compromise with a love opposed to love of God.
Certainly we must love our friends in spite of their faults. However, true friendship requires us to share the good, not evil. Those who dig for gold in a stream sift out the sand and leave it on the banks. So also those who share in good friendship ought to remove the sand of its imperfections and not let it get into their souls.
Genuine friendship resides in the heart, where God’s love holds first place. Thus it is grounded in God’s love, and is guaranteed to last eternally. It encourages, assists and leads friends to perform good deeds. Persons walking on a rugged slippery road hold on to one another in order to walk more safely; so too with genuine friendship. It keeps us safe and assists us in many dangerous places we must cross. It does not watch its friends perish in evilness without helping and correcting them, for genuine living friendship survives only on true virtue. It is good, holy and sacred. How good it is to love and cherish one another in this world as we shall do eternally in the next!
(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)