Friendship, that commodity more precious than fraternity

In “L’Amitié” (Bayard, 2022), Mgr Jean-Paul Vesco, Archbishop of Algiers, testifies to the multiple dimensions of this commitment that is friendship, well beyond fraternity. For the Archbishop of Algiers, this path of friendship is at the heart of each of our loves.

Do you know that Aleteia lives only thanks to the generosity of its readers?


Aleteia really needs you

At the heart of what we call the discourse after the Supper, a true spiritual testament of Jesus to his apostles, falls this sentence: “I no longer call you servants because the servant remains in ignorance of what his master is doing; I call you friendsbecause all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn 15, 15). We would rather expect Jesus to say to his apostles, and through them to each one of us, I no longer call you servants but brothers, for it is from his sonship to Him that we hold to be able to call His Father our Father. Yet it is the word friend that Jesus uses. Brothers, the apostles are living in death after what they have been through and will live together in the hours following this Last Supper. But friendship carries within it an intensity of love that fraternity does not express on its own. In friendship, we give ourselves up reciprocally, we allow ourselves to be touched more intimately than what fraternity commands. That’s what makes her the finest edge of the brotherhood.

take friendship seriously

This last evening, what Jesus reveals to his apostles, and therefore to each one of us, is that he does not love them only as brothers, but as friends: “No one has a greater love than this: love one another as I have loved you. No one has a greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you” (Jn 15, 12-14). We must then take friendship seriously if we want to understand this love that Jesus leaves us as a heritage and a commandment. Friendship cannot be confined to any of the categories of love, which are love in love, the love of blood brothers and sisters, or even the love of enemies. She is at the heart of each of these loves.

Far from extinguishing amorous love, the friendship between spouses gives conjugal love its strength and its beauty. It is the friendship between the spouses that makes their marital love impregnable. An elderly lady confided to me one day that she was unable to mourn her husband who had died for five years, and added: “By losing my husband, I lost my best friend. » Is there a more beautiful declaration of love?

And may it be given to us to find ourselves, happy thieves, in paradise, if it pleases God, our Father to both of us. »

In adulthood, when the parents are gone, what remains of the love between blood brothers and sisters if the years of childhood and adolescence have not forged a bond of friendship between them ? And what does it mean to love your enemies without pushing love so far as to see a friend in him who treats you as enemies? It is the power of the words of Blessed Christian de Chergé, prior of the monks of Tibhirine at the end of his spiritual testament, When an A-Dieu is envisaged : ” And you too, the friend last minute, who wouldn’t have known what you were doing. Yes, for you too I want this thank you and this A-Dieu envisaged by you. And may it be given to us to find ourselves, happy thieves, in paradise, if it pleases God, our Father to both of us. »

At the heart of our humanity

These few considerations are sufficient to suggest that friendship, far from being a weak, somewhat anecdotal or optional value, is inscribed at the heart of our humanity as much as our faith. It gives access to the simplest of life as well as to the highest of spirituality, to the point that Simone Weil was able to write that pure friendship encloses something like a sacrament. Committing to the path of friendship without which Christian fraternity is largely empty of content transforms the relationship to the world and to people. But, by the thirst aroused by the gestures, the attention and the glances of friendship, embarking on this path risks becoming a serious competitor for the world championship of unfulfilled promises of friendship. The author of these lines knows all too well what he is talking about…

Convenient :

Jean-Paul Vesco,FriendshipBayard, September 2022, 120 pages, €14.90

Friendship, that commodity more precious than fraternity