Thought for the week, 14th January;Friendship

Last Thursday (12th January), the church remembered Aelred, abbot of Rievaulx Abbey in the 12th Century. He does not seem to have always been a terribly easy man to get on with; this is often the case with religious leaders. His writings can be difficult. In particular, he put friendship as a higher virtue than love. However, Christians are called to love everyone, including our enemies. In practice, this can mean that at best we remember those we do not like in our prayers or thoughts, perhaps through gritted teeth. By contrast, our friends are those whose company we seek, they are those for whom we have real love. As someone who lives alone, I am comfortable with my own company, but this is only because I am periodically energised by conversations and meetings with my close friends. 

 In John’s Gospel, the writer explores how Jesus, in the Last Supper, told his disciples that they were his friends, as he was their friend. The friendship that Jesus and Aledred were talking about is the highest form of love; perhaps I know this for only one or two people, but it is something that I cherish.