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The Lord

The Lord's Friendship - Weekday Homily Video

Learn more about our faith  |  Holy lives of inspiration

Many true stories of sacrificial friendship have emerged from the sad reality of war. One such story tells of two inseparable friends in World War I, which I read from one of the preachings of  K.P Yohannan, who was the president and founder of Gospel for Asia. This story is about two young lads.

They both enlisted in the army together, completed their training, were shipped overseas, and fought in the trenches. During a battle, one of them sustained critical injuries in a field filled with barbed wire obstacles. He was unable to crawl back to his foxhole, and the entire area was under heavy enemy fire, making it impossible to reach him. Despite the danger, his friend made the brave decision to attempt a rescue. The sergeant yanked him back inside before he could get out of his trench and ordered him not to go. "It's too late. You can't do him any good, and you'll only get yourself killed." 


After a few minutes, the officer turned his back, and at that moment, the man disappeared to try to save his friend. When he returned a few minutes later, he was severely wounded and his friend was dead. The sergeant was upset and moved by the tragedy. He said, "What a terrible waste. Your friend is dead, and you're dying. It wasn't worth it." The dying man replied with his last breath, "It was worth it, Sarge. When I got to him, he only said, ‘Jim I knew you'd come!' 


The Blessing of Friendship


One of the great blessings in life is friendship. Many friendships form naturally. People with something in common are drawn to each other and become friends, sometimes for life, school, and college mates for example. Many people make friends through sports, a walking group, a film club, or a bridge club. They share a common interest, and they become friends. 

There is another form of friendship in which people choose to befriend someone they may have little in common. They do so out of a deeper kind of love than natural friendship.  


Natural Friendship


Someone may befriend another person they share little with on the natural level. 'You are my friends… I call you friends. Jesus says to his disciples. His disciples were probably a very mixed bunch, and Jesus likely had little in common with many of them on a purely natural level. 

Yet, He befriended them. He befriended Judas, for example, washing his feet at the last supper, along with the feet of all the others. Saint Philip, whose feast we celebrate today, was one of the first apostles to be called and befriended by Christ.

From Bethsaida, at first, he was a disciple of Saint John the Baptist. Saint James, son of Alphaeus, is often called "Saint James the Less." His nickname likely refers to his young age, not that he was less important. 


Christ Calls to Us


This kind of friendship or discipleship is inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is the kind of friendship the Lord has or wants to have with each of us. To all of us, regardless of our temperament, personal story, or failings, He says, 'You are my friends.'  

In natural friendships, there is always a giving and a receiving between friends. However, Jesus' friendship and discipleship are a pure gift on his part: 'You did not choose me: no, I chose you'.

His friendship with us endures. Having befriended us in this Spirit-inspired way, He then calls on us to befriend one another as He has befriended the disciples, as He befriends us, to love one another as he has loved us.  


A Divine Gift Given Freely


Philip and James were apostles who gave their lives for Christ their friend, and now, they rest in the Basilica of the Holy Apostles in Rome. Like the other apostles, James and Philip were ordinary men who became foundational pillars of the Church.

This serves as a reminder that holiness and apostolic work are gifts from God, not something that can be achieved only through human efforts. Let us remind ourselves with Saint James that our "Faith without works is dead", and let's pray with Saint Philip, "Lord, Show us the Father."


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About Father Boby John, C.S.C.

Father Boby John, C.S.C., ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in 2008, worked as a pastor and as an educator with tribal populations in Northeast India for thirteen years. Originally from Kerala, India, Father Boby grew up with three siblings. He is a dedicated and detailed educationist with experience in educational leadership. He is currently working as an executive assistant at the world headquarters of Holy Cross Family Ministries, North Easton, Massachusetts.