As an only child, friends were more important to me than family when I was growing up. And since what little family I have are a long way off (and we were never close), my friends are still enormously important to me.
What Shakespeare said of greatness is true also of friends. To adapt his words of wisdom: “Some are born with friends; some achieve friends; and some have friends thrust upon them”. I have all three categories: friends I have known since my childhood; friends I have chosen and grown into over many years; and friends who have suddenly come into my life because of chance or location.
For example, this weekend I have been to New York City and on Friday had dinner with friends originally from Atlanta, Georgia, and Venice, Italy. Then on Saturday I had lunch with a friend who lives in Manhatten but is a parishioner of St Clement’s. And when I returned to Philadelphia I had dinner with friends I have known ever since I came to America.
Last year I visited friends all over the States; for example in San Antonio, Texas, with a priest friend from the 1960s; in Washington, D.C. with a friend I first met in Europe in the same decade; in Palm Springs, California, with friends I went to high school with. And friends from the UK continue, thank God, to come and stay in the Rectory in Philadelphia all the time. In all of them, I am deeply blessed.
So when Jesus says: “I no longer call you servants, but I have called you friends”, my heart gives a hop, skip and a jump! That relationship with the Lord of the universe will satisfy all my needs.