I’ve never been a very good friend.
I’m the type of person who expects to be able to pick up where a friendship has left off, regardless of whether I have picked up the phone in the interim. I have a particular aversion to using the phone.
Since I’ve been sick, I have been bombarded with offers of help and companionship, most of which I have dismissed with a smile and some of which I have accepted gratefully. One friend, having flown in from another East Coast city, rented a car and drove 45 minutes to see me in the weeks after my first surgery, just to keep me company for a few hours. My friends at work have been putting up with my busy and unpredictable schedule to find a date for a bridal shower.
These months of dependence and need have shown me just how generous and good the people in my life are, though I have known for years that many of my friends were simply kinder and more giving than I am. I use my busyness and my lack of sentimentality as an excuse for not reaching out, for not going farther when my friends are in need. This selfishness is one of my ugliest qualities.
When those gathered at table with Jesus to celebrate the Passover expressed their shock at the imminent betrayal he was to suffer and their dismay at the prospect of being the one to complete such a betrayal, they didn’t know that they were part of an immortal and epic story. All they knew was their devotion and friendship, and that they intended to be loyal to Jesus whom they loved.
The Triduum invites us to be swept up in the epic story of the Passion, and we should allow ourselves to be thus moved. We place ourselves into the story, hoping we are among those who would be faithful to the Lord and make grand sacrifices. Yet our lives rarely play out on the scale of the epic. We live out tiny loyalties. Our small manifestations of friendship and care are what make us like the best of the disciples.
On the one hand, we have the blessed opportunity to offer such gestures every day. On the other hand, we are called to diligently offer such gestures every day. To love God and others is a grueling grace.