Sunday, 21 October 2018

Where would we be without friends?

I THINK it was Max Bygraves who used to sing about the importance of friends. His

I THINK it was Max Bygraves who used to sing about the importance of friends. His advice, put in a nutshell, was that “you gotta have ‘em”.

Certainly we all realise the value of friendship, especially when we are feeling a little bit down or lonely.

One of the downsides of moving from one job to another, sometimes involving fairly long distances, is that one tends to leave friends behind.

Some, of course, remain friends for life, but there are many with whom we have enjoyed life who simply seem to drop out of the picture as time passes.

We shall soon all be writing and sending our Christmas cards — always an opportunity to send those round robin letters and to catch up on what has been going on in other people’s lives too.

But those who were once close to us can still seem to be a long way off. Even the Bible talks about Jesus coming to “those who were far off and to those who were near”.

On Sunday the church celebrates All Saints’ Day, a day when we can reacquaint ourselves with “those who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith” and who perhaps seem to be only distant in our relationships.

But they remain firm friends to us as they enjoy the glory and closer companionship of God. The Christian community knows the value of friends — indeed, one of our groups call themselves just that, The Friends!

And the joy for all of us is that we have such a wide variety of friends, on earth and in heaven. “All human life is there”, as someone once said.

Men and women, boys and girls, martyrs and pastors and simply faithful folk who did their best and kept the faith — they are all there.

Very recently Pope Francis canonised the parents of Saint Teresa, the first time a husband and wife have both received the church’s recognition at the same time and a wonderful affirmation of married and family life.

They were simply French villagers who did their best by their family and friends and in so doing raised another saint.

They are a reminder that, to quote a well-known phrase, they simply did ordinary things extraordinarily well — as we are all called to do.

So three cheers for friends, both earthly and heavenly. We would all be the less without them.

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