A Community of Friends

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As part of my job, my 9 to 5 job, the one that pays my bills, I get to travel the world. I love that aspect of my job, I love going to new places. Not only do I get to go to new places, I get to make new friends. I now have friends in five countries around the world and have traveled to seven different countries. So on this next trip I get to visit my friends I have not seen in over a year. It will be nice.

Sure, there is work involved, but still I get to visit with good friends. Sometimes its moments like these that make me thankful for all that I have. Not many people can claim to have traveled the world, not once but several times and even fewer can claim to have made very good friends. God has blessed me, of this I am sure.

But what does this have to do with anything about my faith, besides recognizing that God has blessed me? Well, the fact is, if I stopped there, just with the fact that God has blessed me, that would be enough. But I’m not going to stop there….

Sure Gods blessings is sufficient and I could blog about the blessings all day long. But there is something else at play here. I am reminded of St. Paul, and his travels. The book of Act’s is full of stories about Paul and his travels, and his friendships made. The letters of Paul to the other communities are because of his travels and the friendships he has made.

St. Paul was blessed by God, in many ways, but one way was through his friendships he was able to make on his travels. The friendships that lead to conversation. Sure Paul could have just arrived in each town, talked and left, and sure a few would have been converted, but not many. The words would have been the same, but the value behind them would have been lost on many. Friendship, true authentic friendship, is a powerful tool in conversation.

Words spoke without friendship, be they true or not, often fall to the ground. The hearers may be entranced for a time being, but they will fall. Jesus spent three years speaking the truth as only He could, and many were converted, but many more were not. Jesus also spent the three years cultivating His friendships with a few, getting to know each for who and what they were. If Jesus had not done this, upon His death the faith would have disappeared shortly after. It was the friendship of Jesus to the few that kept the faith burning. Mary Magdalene was the first to see her friend after His resurrection.  It was the friendship that made Mary go to see the grave, and it was friendship that made her cry over the missing body. And the same friendship that allowed her to believe what her mind told her not too….

Friendship played an important roll in Jesus ministry, is not John referred to as the one whom Jesus loved? It was friendship that made the rag-tag followers of Jesus in to a community. Jesus understood the purely human need for friendship. He understood the need to make connections and the need for fellowship. The Christian community was founded on this very principle.

As a life long Catholic, I can say that one of the areas we fail in is creating a community, of fostering friendships with in the church and parish life. All to often attending a parish function is an obligation rather than a joy. All to often we have our “church” friends and our regular friends, as if the people we know at church are not regular people who dine out or play cards or other social activities. We, as Catholics, have segregated our lives into two compartments, the parish and the world. Yet are we not called to live in the world? Did not Jesus tell us to go to the ends of the earth and to all the nations? We failed Him…

The Catholic community can be and should be a vibrant one, one full of life. We have many talents hidden with in our community. Yet we fail to use them, we have many gifts, yet we fail to see them. It is a shame and in some sense it is a scandal that we, as Catholics, do not celebrate the community that Jesus gave us. Rather we squander it away, we hide it as if we are ashamed of it. Our faith, our Church, yes even in today’s world with all the scandals, needs to be celebrated. In-fact maybe just because of the current situation on the Church we should all be praising the good she does to the world. We should be joining together in friendship and our commonalities as Catholics and proudly stating our faith for all to hear. I believe that Jesus would be happy if we all would have the courage to do just that.

Yet we Catholics seem to be a scared bunch, we seem to be ashamed of our faith, even before the current scandal. We have always, in my life time, seemed to shy away from proclaiming our faith. We down play it, or totally ignore it when we are in the secular world.

Why? Because we have no community, we have no friendship, with each other but mostly with Christ. Anyone of of you would gladly defend a friend who was in need. And if asked why, you would reply “They are my friend”, and rightly so! Yet we fail to do this on a daily basis for the Catholic Church, the Church the Jesus himself established here on earth.  We seem to forget that Jesus did stand up for His friends and defend them, He defended them, and us, upon the cross of friendship. Yet we are not even willing to defend the attacks upon the Holy Father or the Church.

The media is at war with the Catholic faith and the Holy father, yet we sit back. Sure, some of it is necessary, yet much of it is just plain mean spirited. Designed to harm the Church not help heal her. They attack based on false reports or fail to reveal the whole truth, they design the attacks to inflect the most damage, and we sit back and do nothing. Sure we may say “What a shame” or “That’s unfair” but we do nothing. friends defend friends when that friend is being attacked. Yet we fail to do so.

Judas did the something, he failed his friend. He sat back and allowed the attacks to go on until it was to late. Are we going to allow that to happen to our faith, to our Church, the  one and true Church established by Jesus himself?

“But what can I do?” is the question you most likely have, “I’m just little old me”. Yes you are, but there are millions of “Little old me’s” out there, and if all of us stand up in friendship for the Church the media will take notice. Write letters to the editor, hold Catholic and proud marches boycott the media, money talks, and in this economy it
talks loudly. Form a prayer group to pray for the healing of the Church or blog about it. There are hundreds of actions that can be taken, and each and everyone one of them should be taken. It is time that the world understands that the Catholic faith is not a monster, it is not a predator and her people are a community of friends.

God Bless


American Catholics: A History of the Roman Catholic Community in the United States (Galaxy Books)
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