The Second Thursday in Ordinary Time
(1 Samuel 18: 6-9; 19: 1-7, Mark 3: 7-12)
As I considered the relationship between David and Jonathan, I was reminded of Saint Aelred’s treatise on Spiritual Friendship. “Friendship is agreement on both human and divine affairs, combined with goodwill and affection.” “Whenever people are in perfect agreement about divine and human affairs and have the same desires along with goodwill and affection, then they have attained perfect friendship.” “For each party in his mind ought to esteem the same things—that is, their unanimity should be agreeable and dear to them; moreover, their subsequent actions in external matters ought to be well-meaning and pleasant.” “Further, a friend is called, as it were, the guardian of love—or, as some prefer to say, the “guardian of the soul” itself.”
Friendship is essential for our faith life to thrive. It was the bond of friendship that motivated Jonathan to speak to Saul in David’s defense. His intervention brought about a reconciliation between the two – albeit a temporary one. As a faithful friend, Jonathan gave David unwavering and loyal support. Goodwill, affection, and faithfulness are traits our society desperately needs today. We need to discover words that will build people up rather than trash and tear them down. Alliances of love and support are few and far between. In the face of harassment and bigotry, we need to stand up for the dignity of every person. Yes, you and I are our brother’s keeper and our sister’s helpmate. Despite the odds against us, we can make a difference. Recall this quote attributed to Edmund Burke. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
God is one but he is not a solitary reality; he is a communion of Persons. When God created man, he made men and women in his image and likeness. Since God is a communion of persons, he knew that it was not good for a man, or a woman, to live in isolation. God loves us and desires us to share his communion of love. Scripture tells us: “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). God shared his vision of the world with us. With the eyes of love, we can see the goodness of every creature.
When van Gogh was beginning work on his masterpiece, ‘The Starry Night’, he was a patient in a mental hospital. During his confinement, he was not allowed to paint. However, he did have access to a window and through that window, he would gaze at the sky. He drew upon the impression the sky had left in his memory when he eventually took up a palette and brush. Van Gogh’s appreciation for the beauty he had admired motivated him to produce this awesome painting. In a letter to his brother Theo, he wrote: “Admire as much as you can, most people don’t admire enough.” If we were to cultivate a heartfelt admiration for the people and world around us, we would discover the treasure God has entrusted to our care. Friends who stand by each other and encourage one another give a never-to-be-forgotten sensation of standing in the presence of God and participating in the never-ending dance of the Trinity. May we be found worthy of such friendship.