Sirach on Friendship

gbradepp

icon-of-christ-and-his-friend-1 (1)We have a copy of “Christ and His Friend” on the kitchen counter.    It’s an Egyptian Icon where Jesus, while holding the Bible places His arm around His friend.  As the icon suggests, we have “ears” to hear and become “Jesus feet.”

Jesus the son of Sirach of Jerusalem, believed there were three basic kinds of friends.   Like Aristotle, Sirach believes in the friendship of utility.   He writes: “For one sort is a friend when it suits him,  but he will not be with you in time of distress.”   How many of our workplace relationship continue after our employment ceases?  The second kind of friendship is based on pleasure.  Again Sirach and Aristotle are very similar:

Another is a friend, a boon companion,
who will not be with you when sorrow comes.
When things go well, he is your other self,
and lords it over your servants;
But if you are brought low, he turns against you
and avoids meeting you. (cf.  Sirach 6)

Finally, Sirach believes in the friend “who is closer than a brother.”  He writes: “Let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant.”

In the Nicomachean ethics, Aristotle writes”  “Perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good, and alike in virtue; for these wish well alike to each other qua good, and they are good themselves. Now those who wish well to their friends for their sake are most truly friends; for they do this by reason of own nature and not incidentally; therefore their friendship lasts as long as they are good-and goodness is an enduring thing.”

The perfect friendship should exist in Christian marriage.   It contains all three elements of friendship (e.g. utility, pleasure and virtue).  When God says, “What God has joined together let no human being must separate” he declares the man and woman to be friends for life.

What do you do if your marriage is like Narnia, “always Winter and never Christmas?”

Sirach describes three characteristics of a faithful friend (mate):

  1. A faithful friend (mate)  is a sturdy shelter;  he who finds one finds a treasure.
  2. A faithful friend (mate) is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth.
  3. A faithful friend (mate)  is a life-saving remedy,  such as he who fears God finds;
    For he who fears God behaves accordingly,  and his friend will be like himself.

Even though a husband and wife are called to be soul mates, for a marriage to be fruitful, the husband must take the role of Christ as Paul states in Ephesians 5, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing[ her by the washing with water through the word  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  to make her holy, cleansing[ her by the washing with water through the word.” (Ephesians 5:23-33)

A great way to start March is for husbands and wives to pray today’s responsorial Psalm:

Guide us, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach us your statutes.
R. Guide us, Lord, in the way of your commands.
In your statutes we will delight; we will not forget your words.
R. Guide us, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Open our eyes, that we may consider the wonders of your law.
R. Guide us, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Make us understand the way of your precepts, and we will meditate on your wondrous deeds.
R. Guide us, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Give us discernment, that we may observe your law and keep it with all our heart.
R. Guide us, Lord, in the way of your commands.
Lead us in the path of your commands, for in it we delight.
R. Guide us, Lord, in the way of your commands.

 

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