9 ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: love each other.
One day the unimaginable happened: one of Augustine’s closest friends became gravely ill. When he ran a high fever and his condition was deemed serious, he was baptized. The youth soon felt better and when Augustine allowed himself to make light of the baptism in the presence of his friend, he was reproached and forbidden to talk about it. A few days later when Augustine was absent, the condition of his friend worsened and he soon died.
Augustine "Black grief closed over my heart and wherever I looked I saw only death. My native land was a torment to me and my father’s house unbelievable misery. Everything I had shared with my friend turned into hideous anguish without him. My eyes sought him everywhere, but he was missing; I hated all things. I had become a great enigma to myself, and I questioned my soul, demanding why it was sorrowful and why it so disquieted me, but it had no answer. Weeping alone brought me solace, and took my friend’s place as the only comfort of my soul.
There can be no abstract friendship. Friendship is always between two people and is fulfilled in a meeting of both. It requires them to exchange experiences. Friendship changes us and helps us overcome our shortcomings and egoism, for true friendship is a demanding venture.
“Lord, help us to value and appropriately experience our friendships, because they are vital for our spiritual growth.”