I suppose there is no higher compliment that one could pay another person than to call him or her “my friend”. Wrapped up in that simple statement are all of the affection and respect, the trust and loyalty that makes life in this sometimes troubled world both possible and worthwhile. Isn’t it strange that we often take friendship for granted and treat it casually?

          The truth is that no human relationship is all that it ought to be until it has been elevated to the level of friendship. We can be neighbors, in the sense that we live in close proximity; but that can be problematical unless we are also friends. A man and a woman may start as young lovers and become husband and wife; but that can become deadly dull or even unbearably painful unless somewhere along the way they also become friends. No human relationship is all that it ought to be without this blend of respect and affection, loyalty and trust that ties people together in friendship.

          Ordinarily, we think of friendship as something that is gentle and kind, and that it is. But we need to remember that it is also a power – its power to sustain us in the face of trouble, its power to undergird for times of sacrifice, and finally its power to conquer the human heart and transform. We live in a world that bristles with problems. In that kind of world, we need to remind ourselves that the only power that can conquer and transform the human heart in the difficult moments of life is friendship.

          The reason for this is evident. The essential nature of friendship is that it does things for us which we cannot require. Much of life is not that way. We do a week’s work and we have the right to expect our salary. We pay our money and we expect goods and services in return. But friendship enters our lives and gives us that which we cannot require. A friend loves us when we do not deserve it. A friend forgives us when we cannot demand it. A friend believes in us even when we cannot believe in ourselves. That is friendship at its best, and it is the only power on earth that can truly conquer a human heart and make it better.

          Every Sunday, as a parish, we experience the power of friendship as God gathers His children together at Mass. During Mass, literally thousands of our neighbors come together and celebrate God’s blessing in our lives, family, and community. We come together through God’s grace and build a Catholic friendship that will change our hearts and transform each of us into better friends and co-workers in Christ’s name. It can be done, and with your continued help, it will be done.