The Love of Friendship
Presence of God – Grant, O Lord, that I may live my life in Your divine friendship.
The highest expression of human love is friendship, and St. Thomas teaches that charity is specifically the love of friendship between man and God. Friendship, however, requires a certain equality, community of life and of goods; it demands reciprocity of affection and mutual benevolence. But what equality and community of life can there be between a creature who is nothing and God, who is the Supreme Being? None, from a natural point of view. However, God willed to raise man to the supernatural state by giving him a share in His nature and divine life. It is true that man always remains a creature—though divinized by grace—and God remains the inaccessible, transcendent Being; but in His infinite love He has found a way to raise man to the level of His divine life. The first fruit of God’s love for us is precisely this form of equality and community of life which He has willed to establish between Himself and us by means of grace. God has preceded us, not only by His love as Creator by which He has given us existence, but also by His love as Father by which He permits us to participate in His divine life.
“Love either finds or makes equal those who love each other …” and God has loved us so much that He has made us like unto Himself, that He may admit us into the circle of His divine friendship, that friendship which exists in the bosom of the Trinity between the three divine Persons. Furthermore, just as a friend desires to live with his friend, and always seeks his presence, his nearness, in the same way God has willed to make Himself so present to us and so intimate with us that He has established His abode in our souls: “We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him” (John 14:23). Can we imagine any greater community of life between God and us than this continual communion with the divine Persons who dwell in our soul and with whom, by means of charity, we can enter into true relations of friendship?
“My God, You know that I have ever desired to love You alone, that I seek no other glory. Your love has gone before me from the days of my childhood. It has grown with my growth and now it is an abyss, the depth of which I cannot sound. Love attracts love, and mine darts toward You. It would like to fill to the brim the abyss which draws it; but alas! my love is not even a drop in that ocean! To love You as You love me, I must borrow Your own love—thus only can my desire be satisfied.
“Love—that is all You ask of us. You do not need our works, but only our love. You Yourself, who declared that You have no need to tell us if You are hungry, did not hesitate to beg for a little water from the Samaritan woman … You were thirsty … But when You said, ‘Give Me to drink,’ You, the Creator of the universe, were asking for the love of Your poor creature; You thirsted for love! O Jesus, I feel that You are thirstier than ever. You meet with nothing but indifference and ingratitude among the disciples of this world, and among Your own, how few are the hearts that surrender themselves without reserve to the infinite tenderness of Your love.
“Your merciful love is ignored and rejected on every side. The hearts on which You would lavish it turn to creatures, rather than cast themselves into Your arms, into the ecstatic fires of Your infinite love. O my God, must that love which is disdained lie hidden in Your heart? It seems to me that if You could find souls offering themselves as a holocaust to Your love, You would consume them rapidly, and would be pleased to set free those flames of infinite tenderness now imprisoned in Your heart…. O Jesus, permit that I may be that happy victim—consume Your holocaust with fire of divine love…. Your love surrounds and penetrates me; at every moment it renews and purifies me, cleansing my soul from all trace of sin” (Thérèse of the Child Jesus Story of a Soul 12, 13, 8).
Note from Dan: This post on the love of friendship is provided courtesy of Baronius Press and contains one of two meditations for the day. If you would like to get the full meditation from one of the best daily meditation works ever compiled, you can learn more here: Divine Intimacy. Please honor those who support us by purchasing and promoting their products.
Art for this post on the love of friendship: mirror of Thomas von Aquin [Thomas Aquinas], Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), unknown date, PD-US published in the U.S. prior to January 1, 1923, author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.