What does it mean to call someone a friend? A friend is a person with whom you share your heart and who shares his heart with you. Friendship builds upon vulnerability, the willingness to open our hearts to those we trust. We confide in friends who will look out for our best interests and respond accordingly. The deeper a friendship goes in willingness, vulnerability, and personal entrustment, the more pronounced its growth. As we spend time with our friends, we pick up each other’s habits — good and bad. As friendship grows, we begin to see ourselves in the other. The places we like to go, the programs we watch, the music we listen to, the games and sports we play, the people we get along with — everything that makes up the time we spend together unites us. Our friend becomes like a mirror in which we see ourselves.
There are friends, and then there is our best friend. Your best friend knows everything about you. They know the good, the bad, and the ugly, and they know when you are feeling good, bad, or ugly. (At least my wife, who is my best friend, does.) They know what makes us tick and what ticks us off. Our best friends are the best reflections we have of ourselves because they contain all the secrets that we would not share with anyone else.
We call Jesus friend because we believe that He wants what is best for us. We confide in Him because we trust Him. But what is “mind numbing” about this call to be friends with Jesus is that He desires to be not just our friend but our best friend, or in the words of my five-year-old, “our bestest friend” (because bestest is better than best).
In the Gospel, Jesus asked His Apostles: “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15). Jesus wants to know what His friends think about Him, not for His sake, but for ours. Jesus did not need a self-esteem boost; rather, He was providing an opportunity for the disciples to personalize their relationship with Him. It was then that Peter stepped forward and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Just as the disciples were invited to identify who Christ was in their lives, so are we. Fundamentally, as Christians, we must ask the question: Who is Jesus to me? Do I call Him friend?
As we pray our devotions, receive Christ in the sacramental life, read Scripture fervently, study the lives of the saints, and serve the poor, the depth of our friendship with Christ will grow and so will our understandings of who we are as human persons. In studying Christ, we will better understand not only the functional part of what we do but also the more meaningful part of who we are in our relationships with God — that which animates what we do. The more we get to know Him, the more we get to know ourselves. Jesus is not just any friend, but the One Friend who reveals to us how to be a better human being, the best friend we could ever hope for.
We must pay attention to Christ’s “revealing” Himself to us, both in divine revelation and in the more informal revelation we find in our everyday conversation with Him. This “paying attention” happens in proximity and silence.
Art for this post on Intercessory Prayer: Cover and featured image used with permission.