During challenging, painful and traumatic times, the people with whom we share these experiences can become our lasting friends. There is an intimacy of the shared moment. Deep memories of monumental moments engrave themselves into our minds and with them the people who were with us. Friends and colleagues become even more important to us at such times.
The companions of Jesus who knew him, watched him, and followed him, were thrust onto the stage of events very dramatically during the week leading up to his arrest and execution. The bonds they formed with each other defined them. The way in which Jesus returned and sought them out after his resurrection was as a friend making sure the relationships were restored, because they meant so much to him. These were the people who were with Him during his greatest challenge. We name so many of our churches after these people who were with Him during these times. What an enormous privilege and overwhelming upending of their lives it was to be the friends of Jesus, especially when the ful-fillment of his journey came to pass.
We, too, look to, or express, the knowledge of Jesus as being our friend. There is a great sense of encour-agement in this knowledge. We are not alone, we have the companionship of such a higher power, a love that possesses an unrelenting penchant for forgiveness and mercy.
Here are some thoughts I have had about being friends with Jesus:
1. Friends are people who can be honest with me, can challenge me in my thinking – am I letting Jesus chal-lenge me in what I think, or do I use Jesus to justify what I think?
2. Friends are people with whom I laugh and share my joy, is it fun for me to be with Jesus, or is it a formal affair, like visiting a relative with whom I have to be polite?
3. Friends are people with whom I spend my time, make time to be with whenever I can, and look forward to such times – do I seek out time with Jesus, savor it and look forward to it?
4. Friends are ones who call upon me when they need help and to whom I respond to when I am in need – am I there for my God and do I seek out God to walk with me, instead of fix everything?
Having the presence of God with us during our tragedies and challenges can give us strength. The friend-ship of God can keep us from blaming God and being resentful as we have to face the mortal journey that is thrust upon us. Yet, as we hold onto this friendship we can find the fulfillment of his journey continuing to be fulfilled in our time, thrusting us upon the stage of events beyond our control. Being perfect is not what is ex-pected, but rather being present. We remember the original Holy Week, because it is a guide to us as we make our way through our own journey, with our friends and the friend who does not spare us, but is with us to re-move the fear of moving forward.