The Gift of True Friendship

Imagine the scene depicted in the Gospel story (John 12: 1-11). It takes place exactly one week before the crucifixion of Jesus. He knows what’s going to happen; he knows his time is short. So how does he spend this day? Fretting and worrying and fearing the pain that he’ll soon suffer? Is he depressed perhaps?

No, he’s enjoying a party!

Jesus chose to spend his last peaceful day with his dearest and closest friends. He can relax around them. He knows they’re not going to pick a fight with him. If he wants to rest, they will minister to his needs and desires.

What a great example of friendship!

Look at how they dined. It was no simple meal of pita bread and dates, but a banquet! Jesus taught by his own example that we should live in humble simplicity, and yet he also enjoyed a fancy meal with lots of trimmings and gourmet dishes.

And he certainly appreciated the luxury of the perfume that his friend Mary lavished on him. He did not say: “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” (like we often do). He was very gracious in accepting without question the gifts that his friends gave to him.

This is a wonderful example of genuine friendship. It didn’t matter if the gift was expensive or frugal; what mattered was the depth of friendship from which it came.

In true friendship, we give service and gifts to each other simply because we love each other. There’s no equality to it, no thought of “If you pay the bill at the restaurant this time, next time it’s my turn” or “If you invite me to your $100-a-plate wedding reception, then I have to arrive bearing a gift of equal value.”

Mary didn’t anoint Jesus as payment for all the good he had done for her, but as a gift of her own goodness simply because she loved him. She was accused of being wasteful, the gift too extravagant, but she didn’t choose the perfume based on its price tag; she gave her beloved friend a gift that showed the extravagance of her love. She was generous in the enthusiasm of her love.

Is your friendship with Jesus like this? How we treat our friends is how we treat Jesus. Our friendship with Jesus is only as genuine as the relationships we have with the people he’s provided as the friends with whom we journey on the road of faith.

Jesus gives us his love through holy friendships. In the fellowship of true friends, Jesus ministers to us, heals us, teaches us, dies with us and resurrects us. In those friendships, we meet Jesus and kiss his feet and anoint him with the perfume of our adoration.

© 2016 by Terry A. Modica

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