Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA
Homily given at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament
By Fr. Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA
17 May 2009 (6th Sun Easter – Year B)
Theme – Friendship
To have friends in this world is really a great blessing. To have true and genuine friends, that is — not friends who would lead you to danger or friends who would lead you to sin, or even friends who would lead you to temptations. That’s really not friends at all. To have true friends not only is a great blessing, not only can they bring happiness in this life but also happiness in the next life.
Just consider for a moment one who is unemployed. He works so hard in trying to get a job but it seems that his efforts are in vain. One day he called his friend and told her the frustration he has gone through in looking for a job. So he asked her to continue to pray for him. Then she said: why don’t you try in my dad’s company? I don’t know if he is hiring or not, but just try it. So he did try. This is actually a true story. His friend told her dad about him and one thing led to another and he actually got a job. Not only did he get a job, but little did he know that the company he is working for is a very good one. A very family-oriented business and besides that, he received a very good paycheck. They gave him more benefits than the job he used to have. Here is a friend who helped another friend to get a job, a friend who brought happiness into this life.
A friend may help another friend to stay out of trouble, to stay off drugs, alcohol, or some sort of addictions which enslaves them. Through the instruments of these friends, they would be free. They would actually enjoy life and bring happiness in this life. A friend may help another friend not only to stay out of trouble but to be good — to be very good, helping others to live an exemplary life. Again, these true friends can truly bring happiness in this life.
Of course, there are many examples that we can think about in the subject of friends: friends in college, friends at work, friends at home, friends in the Church, friends in the community, friends in the street, etc., etc., etc. All these forms of human friendship are great blessings when we have them and they bring happiness even in this life. Again, provided that they are real and genuine friends, not those who would lead us to sin, to be in trouble, etc. In a sense, one who when having these friends, they would be an instrument to virtues, to grace; and these type of friends would lead us to happiness even into the next life, as well, not just in this life if we truly have these friends. St. Francis de Sales once said “Friendships begun in this world will be taken up again never to be broken off.” He is referring to Heaven. Friendships begun in this world will be taken up again never to be broken off. I think this is a consolation for us if we are saddened over good friendships that we used to have but for some reason the relationship became broken when once it was very good. The consolation of hearing St. Francis de Sales say that this will be taken up again — this true friendship — these true friendships will never be broken up. In Heaven all broken relationships will be healed and perfected. Also at the same time, if you don’t want to reestablish a relationship with someone even in Heaven, you had better start praying for a change of heart, for the only way to avoid knowing and loving someone in eternity, is for one or for both of you to miss Heaven.
Our Lord said “I no longer call you slaves, but my friends. Slaves do not know what their master is doing. I have called you friends because I have told you everything.” All forms of human friendship, which we considered a moment ago, are wonderful — great blessings when we have them. But these forms of human friendship aren’t perfect, there’s always faults, imperfection etc.,; so no matter how great of friends we may have, they fall short somewhere. Though all human friendship ultimately points to one Supreme Friendship, that is the friendship of our Lord Jesus Christ. The friendship of the Eternal Word made flesh. He is the One who not only helps us to stay out of trouble, but He’s the one who helps us to be good, to be very good, and He is the only way to everlasting happiness. Not only is He our only way to everlasting happiness, but He also gives us the strength and ability to get there. That is His grace. As He said: apart from Me you can do nothing, but with Me you can do all things. Our Holy Father said there are no secrets between friends. Christ tells us everything He hears from the Father. He gives us His full confidence. And with His full confidence, He gives us knowledge. He reveals His face to us. He reveals His heart. He passionately loves us so that He would go and empty Himself on the Cross for you and me.
Imagine for a moment that you’ve done something terribly wrong and so terribly wrong that the State has put you in prison because of it. Not only has the State put you in prison, but the State has also sentenced you to the electric chair. Then your friend comes to visit you before your appointed time to be executed. Your friend says, “Look — I’m here not only to visit you, but to take your place to sit in the electric chair. I’ll stay here in your place and you go in my place. I want you to go back to your family. I want you to love them as you’ve never loved them before. Because you are my friend and because I love you, I’m going to lay down my life for you.” That’s exactly what Jesus did for us on the Cross. He lets us go. He lets us off the hook from having to sit on the electric chair of eternal condemnation. He lets us go back to our loved ones, to love them as we have never loved them before. Again, there is no greater love than that — to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.
Remain in His love. How are we supposed to remain in His love? He tells us: if we keep His commandments, we will remain in His love. We are to love one another as Christ loves us. This is really the essence of the wonderful John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.” Love others as Christ loves us, even to the point of hurting ourselves. You know, Christ never loves us with lust. He always loves us with pure and genuine love. He always loves unselfishly. That is what we are all called to do. Not only is Jesus our true Friend, again not only is He the one who helps us to stay out of trouble, but He is the one who leads us to be very good — to be His true friends by being holy, striving to be holy no matter how much it hurts in the process.
Many of us have heard this worldly phrase: “No pain — no gain.” Athletes train themselves with great discipline and the process can be very painful — sores in their bodies or even some injuries they may experience through their training. But they know that unless they experience pain, there is no gain. They did all that to win some game or to win some competition in sports.
What about us who are called to be holy? What about us who are called to reach perfect charity? That’s all of us, not just priests, not just religious but every one of us in this world. We are all called to perfect charity. When are we going to apply this principal? No pain — no gain. St. Paul tells us that we are in a competition, but a competition for a crown that will never perish; a crown that will endure unto eternity. This is what Mother Theresa used to say, too: Give yourselves to others until it hurts. Love one another, St John said, because love is of God. Everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God because God is love. Jesus calls us His friends and He is our Friend. He is not one who loves His friends only on the superficial level, which we tend to do, or very shallow friendship — but His friendship is real, authentic, and out of this world! It is from Heaven! His friendship not only brings us happiness in this life, His friendship brings us happiness for eternal life as well. So let us do what our Lord commands us: Love one another. Let’s do what He commands us so that we may always be His friends and He our true friend — an everlasting friend for ever and ever.