January 23, 2022
Disunity and Friendship
The disunity that is evident on all the levels of today’s societies, especially in the bosom of the Church, reveal how far we are from the Truth of love. We are separated because of our contradictory convictions, the particularities of our character, our economic status, and even because of our disappointments. In our spiritual poverty, we live in misery, pain, and anger because we feel our friendships do not satisfy us. We thus remain desolate, lacking true love.
St. Maximus the Confessor detects the reason for this disunity and disharmony saying: “You have not yet acquired perfect love if your regard for people is still swayed by their characters. For example, if, for some reason, you love one person and hate another, or, if for the same reason, you sometimes love, and other times hate the same person. Perfect Love does not separate human nature, that is common to all, according to the diverse characteristics of individuals. Fixing attention always on this single nature, it [Perfect Love] loves all men equally. It loves those that are virtuous as friends and the wicked as enemies, helping them, exercising forbearance, patiently accepting whatever they do, not taking the evil into account at all, but even suffering on their behalf if the opportunity offers, so that, if possible, they too become friends. If it cannot achieve this, it does not change its own attitude; it continues to show the fruits of love to all men alike. It was on account of this that our Lord and God Jesus Christ, showing His love for us, suffered for the whole of mankind and gave to all men an equal hope of resurrection, although each man determines his own worthiness, whether it be for glory or punishment.”
The way to heal the disharmony that exists amongst us is to cultivate true friendships. “A true friend”, says the Confessor, “is one who, in times of trial, calmly and imperturbably suffers with his neighbor the ensuing afflictions, privations and disasters as if they were his own.” For, Christ calls us His friends. He endured suffering on the Cross in order to show us His love. By doing this, He made known to us all that He heard from His Father (Jn. 15:15).