Tue | Jul 23, 2019

Diary of a Ghetto Priest | True friends vs false friends

Published:Friday | July 6, 2018 | 12:00 AMFr Richard Ho Lung
Missionaries of the Poor Brothers serving in Cebu, Philippines.

There is friendship between father and son, husband and wife, brothers and sisters, grandparents and grandchildren, working and business partners, recreational partners in sports, and friends dining together and sharing deep thoughts at church, labouring together. But there is friendship that might just be companionship and not true friendship, even within a family. Companionship is just acquaintance, but there is no help, defense, or protection in times of difficulty and trouble.

Friendship shows itself when there are difficulties or mistakes, when there is reproach, weaknesses, even condemnation and disgrace. Then, the true friend seeks to defend, offer forgiveness to his friend, and lighten his load, much like Jesus Christ did on the cross. He understands and undertakes punishment for our guilt. He does not accuse and condemn. What if we were condemned for all our sins and wrongs, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth? God's world would be a most bitter place to live.

Friendship between friends, friendship with our Lord, friendship as an attitude towards all men brings a sweetness, a gentleness and a forgiving between us, forming a brotherhood and love between us that makes life warm and joyful. Thank God for Jesus!

In my own life, I have had friends. I gave you an example of Peter Lue, my class companion in high school. There are others who I could not begin to enumerate now. They have made my life such a joy and have made my love for the Lord and love for the poor possible.

However, there are false friends.

 

HE WHO UPBRAIDETH HIS FRIENDS

 

When we love, we love one another as friends. At all times, even in times of distress, we are loyal. We do not forsake each other at times when the other is weak and forsaken.

As Ecclesiastes says, "He that flings a stone at birds shall drive them away, so that he who upbraideth his friends breaks friendship (Eccls 22, 25).

When your friend has fallen, you do not kick, chastise or forsake him. Rather, we keep close with a friend in his times of trouble and rejection. Continue to be faithful to him. In better times, there will be much rejoicing.

There is a friend who is a friend for his own convenience. There is a friend who becomes an enemy, and there is a friend who discloses hatred and strife and reproach, who will forsake you rather than comfort you in your times of troubles. He will laugh at you and scorn you and join hands with those who reject and hurt you. And, when he sees you face to face, he will shake his head and say, "I told you so."

In times of trouble, your friend will try to comfort you and help and guard you in your mistakes. He wants to help you when you are weak and in pain and cannot help yourself.

Thanks be to Jesus, thanks be to God for friends!

Forgive me for the wrongs I have done to you. Forgive me for disappointing you, my friends. Thank you, my friends in times of trouble, for having walked with me through life. May you have friends, and may your friends be true to you.

A friend, indeed, is a rare and beautiful gift sent by God. At 78 years, I give thanks.