We love our “best friends,” don’t we? They are the ones who are always there for us, the ones we hang out with all the time, the ones who know the most about us, and certainly the ones we hold up to a higher level of friendship than anyone else; after all, they are our “best” friends. On the flip side, we have just plain old “friends” as well. These are the people who may not like all the same things we do, people we are slightly afraid of being our true self with, and people we are not sure we can always rely on. In both of these relationships we use the word “friend” but we have a clear identifier that our best friend is at the top of the list with the adjective used to describe them. However, the word “best” is not just an identifier, it is an overall expectation. In the twentieth week of Ordinary Time we hear some really challenging scripture defining the type of faith we are called to have and what God is looking for in, what I consider, His “best disciples.”
In the first reading from Isaiah, we see God telling us to work and minister by bringing as many people as we can to Him. He has set aside only the most beautiful things for those who have glorified Him through their actions. His desire to keep everyone together through prayer and evangelization is a sign He longs for us to have relationships with one another which are holy. Through holiness only the best can shine through and we receive special grace because of it. He views us as a best friend, longing to give us eternity with Him on the “Holy Mountain.” (Is 56:7) Isn’t this what we want for our best friends as well?
Now every once in a while, even though they know what to do, our “best friends” can make decisions which really don’t go along with the person we know them to be. They can get lost and make mistakes which can hurt others, especially themselves. Our love for them can give them courage to make the changes necessary to help them be better. It’s kind of what St. Paul was saying in his letter to the Romans this week. He’s speaking about God’s willingness to allow us to make mistakes so that He can show us His mercy through forgiveness. His belief in us allows Him to reconcile us when we falter so that we can be united in redemption. Kind of sounds the same as when we have a falling out with our bestie, but an, “I’m sorry” reminds us why we love them so much. Our bond is strengthened through reconciliation.
One of the paramount things about our relationships with our best friends, is our comfort level in asking for their help. Our belief in another person does not mean that we do not fear their reactions or judgments on us, but rather our persistence for their help which shows our faith in them; just as it is in the Canaanite women in Matthew’s Gospel. Even though she was taking a risk by reaching out to Christ for help, she does anyway. Additionally, He even dismisses her because of who she is, but her strong belief in Him did not allow her to give up. Her courage enables her to put her faith on display which results in Jesus healing her daughter upon request. Holding The Lord in this high regard once again shows us that no matter what we have done or how rejected we have been, there is hope in the One we place above all. Just as with our own friends who have our back through thick and thin, it is our belief in our best friend which proves how much they mean to us.
One thing is for certain, God proves Himself over and over again in how our faithfulness is rewarded. So, when it comes to living out your faith, do you want to be the person God can rely on without waiver, or is it more important to work to please the world when convenient? Being His “best disciple” is not easy, but it is proof that if you hold Him in the highest regard He deserves, great things await you. In the end, our “best friend” proves to be so much more when we view them through the words of this week’s scripture.