Way back in the day, I grew up in a family of four boys. My brothers were my best friends. We did everything together. I had some other really good friends, “best” friends, named Greg, Brian, and Dan. During the summers, a big group of us would be together, my brothers included, from sun up to sun down, riding our bikes, swimming, playing baseball, and building forts in the woods. We’d break for lunch and dinner and then be right back at it, hanging out and having fun.
Then in high school, with busier schedules filled with athletics and activities, there was less time but still lots of really good friends. Whether teammates, classmates, or others that I gravitated towards, the conversations got a little deeper and a lot more real. In college, preparing to eventually graduate and launch into young adult life, we discussed our aspirations and dreams, what we wanted to do and where we wanted to live.
In reflecting on the above in relation to adult life, I believe the primary difference is “time”. Back then, even if you wore a watch you rarely looked at it. Time wasn’t the issue; our friends were. And all we wanted to do was spend time with them. Often we didn’t have to be doing anything with them except be in their presence, hanging out, having fun, laughing, sometimes crying, being there for one another. That’s what authentic friendship is, being with one another and loving one another, not caring about the time, but just the person.
Bishop David Zubik, in his pastoral letter titled, “The Church Evangelizing,” gave us the recipe for discipleship, including making disciples, that is “Be a friend. Be a friend of Jesus. Make friends for Jesus." It all starts with being a friend first. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Whereas it was different in our youth, friendship needs to be intentional. Not unlike our youth, it requires an investment of time.
Our Eleventh Annual Gathering of Catholic Men will again this year be at the David Lawrence Convention Center on November 12, 2016. The theme, taken from Matthew 28:19, is “Go make disciples of all nations”, as expressed by Jesus to the Apostles before He ascended into Heaven. We as Catholics need to take this charge seriously. But as indicated by our Bishop, we need to remember that it all starts with friendship, authentic friendship. Although the friendship that Jesus calls us to includes many, I have to believe that it’s His desire that it start in our homes, with our spouses, children, and parents. After that, He wants us to be friends with the world, one person at a time.
As we celebrate this Easter season, leading to Pentecost, mindful of Jesus’ desire, as stated by Bishop Zubik, for us to be His friend and make friends for Him, let us not forget to slow down and invest our time and energy into those around us, being an authentic friend, sharing with them the love of Christ.