JAMES BEHRENS: Friendship a favorite theme in the teachings of Jesus

Not long ago a lot of gifts and cards were exchanged on Valentine's Day. The 14th of February is a date set aside for the expressing of gratitude for those who found love and it is as well a day of wishing for those who are yet hoping for it.

It is strange that there is no similar day for friendship -- a gift that comes to everyone at some point in their lives. I suppose that friendship does not have the alleged magic that we enshrine around that one true and lasting love.

But in that raising of the one and only, maybe we miss out on the presence of the obvious and the good. Friendship is a good and even life-sustaining gift.

We recently had read to us the gospel about the four men who lower a paralytic man through a roof so as to be healed by Jesus.

We were not given their names. But they appear in the gospel as good examples of what friends can do, what they are for. Friends are those who help us through rough spots in life. They give help when we cannot give it of ourselves.

During the week we had a wonderful retreat given us by Eugene Hansell, a Benedictine monk from St. Meinrad's Abbey in Indiana. He was wonderful.

He mentioned more than once the relationship that exists between faith and good works. They belong together, kind of like good friends. We see one or the other in life and the relationship between faith and friendship is just below the surface.

The four in the gospel went out of their way to get their friend where he needed to be.

Friendship was a favorite theme in the teachings of Jesus. I might add that it was as well a deep need of His. He needed human companionship and, more importantly, He showed as the living link that lives between God and the human.

If we are made in the image and likeness of God, the ways of friendship are a good way to understand what God is like and what he asks of us.

In Jesus, He befriended men and women. And asks that we do the same for each other -- even if it means going through the roof when there is no other way to be with him.

For that, we need each other. Getting through tough spots in life is what friends are for. They are a door to the divine -- and at times may even get us there through a hole in the roof.

Father James Stephen (Jeff) Behrens, O.C.S.O., serves at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 Ga. Highway 212 S.W., Conyers. His email address is james@trappist.net.