Can We Ever Really be Friends?

Raymond and Debra argument

Can human beings ever really know and understand each other? Does communion between members of our species really exist? Real, genuine friendship? Not just transactions for some kind of gain, but a personal relationship, for its own sake? Or do we really just relate to each other on the level of material and bodily needs, like all the other animals?

To communicate poses enormous challenges. If you look at the business from a certain point-of-view, for us human beings truly to know each other seems impossible. After all, each of us has an utterly unique set of experiences. And very few of us have much talent with words. In fact, language barriers and other sources of misunderstanding loom everywhere.

There’s the great stereotype of the exasperated wife who finally gives up on her husband. “He will never have a real conversation with me!” It’s a stereotype, yes—but… We human beings hardly even know our own selves—we really don’t understand ourselves—so how could I ever share myself with another person, in a mutual exchange, and have a real friendship?

The_Head_of_Christ_by_Warner_Sallman_1941Now, if you think this is getting dismal, hold on. Jesus said: There is nothing hidden that will not become visible. (Luke 8:17)

Christ came to accomplish many things. But the most-fundamental thing He came to do is: To reveal the mystery of God.

When we read the gospels and encounter Jesus as He lived and spoke and acted on earth, one inescapable fact emerges: Jesus Christ is the living God—the one, true, only God—and yet He manifestly is not the Father. Jesus and the Father have a relationship—a love, a friendship, an unfathomably intimate communion with each other.

There is only one God. Nothing, no one could ever compare with the one-ness, the unity of God. And this united God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Christ came to reveal this.

So this is what we most-fundamentally believe in. We believe all the mysteries of the Catholic faith, of course—all the mysteries accomplished by the Messiah. But all of the mysteries of faith are fundamentally based on this one, this most-basic thing that we believe in. And we believe in it, even though it altogether eludes our capacity to imagine. The undivided, eternal, and Almighty One is three Persons in perfect communion.

Therefore: We believe in friendship. We believe in it because God has revealed it and taught us about it Himself. God has revealed that He is communion. So we absolutely believe in communion, in friendship, in mutual understanding and solidarity.

And by believing in it like this, we achieve it. Not that our human relationships can ever be perfect during this pilgrim struggle; we don’t have the triune communion of heaven yet; that awaits us in the better life, the next life.

Here, we struggle. We contend with the enormous obstacles that lie in the way of all human communication. But we do not struggle in vain. We really can know each other, and love each other—because Jesus and the Father know each other and love each other.


Superman and Korean Rice Paddies


“…those who hear the Word of God and act on it.” (Luke 8:21)

We need religion and Church to help us conceive clearly what the world really is, and who we really are.  We can play around, imagining that we are something that we’re not—like imagining that I’m Superman or Darth Vader.  That’s what Halloween is for, right?

But: to live in reality, we need the Word of God and the teaching of the saints.

Thousands of Korean Christians died as martyrs about 200 years ago.  One of them, Fr. Andrew Kim, wrote to his people shortly before his martyrdom, to remind them of the message of the Word of God.

The people were rice farmers.  Anyone every visited a rice farm?

Anyway, I think it’s pretty similar to farming in general.  1.  The farmer works to cultivate the soil and sows the seed.  2.  The seed needs water to grow.  3.  The farmer hates to see weeds.  4.  The farmer looks forward to a fruitful harvest.

St. Andrew Kim reminded his people:  God is a farmer.  The world is His farm.  He has sown us as His rice plants.  He has watered us, by sending His only-begotten Son, so that we can grow.  He hates to see us choked by the weeds of self-centeredness and sin.  He looks for us to bear fruit—which we do by seeking to know His will and acting on it.  He hopes to share the joy of the harvest with us.

These days plenty of people seem never to think of God.  They hardly seem to understand what going to church is all about.  Meanwhile, they have no sense for the grand reality of the world, or of our own particular lives.

Being Superman might be fun for like 15 minutes.  Maybe for a couple hours, if I’m trick-or-treating.  But being who I really am is a million times better.

We are God’s handiwork, God’s rice plants, God’s beloved children.  To praise Him, worship Him, love Him, and try always to co-operate with His will—that’s what we were made to do.  And when we do it, we can actually find true happiness.