Love and friendship

Notes for Leaders

Article 7

Love and friendship

The Vatican Council suggested that man was called to snare with God not only by “creating” but also by loving. Let us now look at this aspect of man’s vocation.

St. Matthew tells of how a pharisee once put a question to Jesus “Master which is the greatest commandment of the Law?” Jesus replied: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment.

The second resembles it: “You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hand the whole Law and the Prophets also.”

The duty of loving is therefore certainly endorsed by Christ. But we could have argued to this from what we see in the world. Every man needs to love and to be loved – without that he would die. In this man is different from rocks, or plants, or animals.

In the last article we looked at the world our civilisation has built and saw that we can only have the great goods we have (cars, aeroplanes, electricity, clothes, houses, food, medicines, etc.) because of the co–operation of all workers of the world. Some will make one thing while others produce something else. Similarly we. can only have a happy and just world if all men co-operate in loving one another.

Everybody wants to love and be loved – and yet I suppose that there is nothing that we fail more miserably at than our duty to love. 2/3 of the world goes to bed hungry tonight because we don’t love enough. 1/2 of the world is lonely, feels rejected, is jealous, fights – because we don’t all love enough. Families are torn apart, people commit suicide, we have murders, divorces, drug addicts, alcoholics and abortions, because of lack of love.

Then why don’t we love as we ought? it is because of our selfishness and materialistic ambitions, because of love of power and prestige, because of our pride and fear of rejection, because sometimes we just don’t think or are too apathetic, because we don’t believe in ourselves and our power to make others happy, and because we listen to a world that says Love only those that love you.

There will be people who may die of hunger because I was too selfish with my money and made excuses for my selfishness. There will be people who may always feel rejected because I thought they were idiots and not good enough or worth talking to. And perhaps there... will be people who will never grow and do what they were, called to in life because I never challenged them to stop play acting their life because I was too scared of what they would think of me if I asked them to do hard things, or perhaps because I was just too chicken to get involved.

Yes it is easy to see that we are all called to love our neighbour – but how? That is a harder question and one that we will be continually trying to find out all our life.

Many people will tell you – I have many friends and lots of people I really like – but I have only had a couple of real friends in all my life. What is a real friend?

Surely it is one whose love you long for and whose love you can accept without being smothered. It is one who loves–you sincerely and unselfishly. It is one who accepts you as you are.

This brings us to the first part of that commandment. You were told to love God. Well that seems fair enough seeing all He has done for you. But – wait – you are asked to share love with God. It is not only you loving Him – but He loves you sincerely and unselfishly. He tells you through Jeremiah and prophet “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” He longs to share all things with you, but He respects you also and will not smother you. God calls you to real friendship with Him. For you to respond and have Him as a real friend you will have to get to know Him, you will have to share with Him, you will have to grow in friendship. Like any other friendship this will not come about in any magical way – but only by spending time with one another, communicating with one another, sharing things. Your friendship of course will be different from any one else’s – as is the case with all friendships.