Article: A friend in need is a friend indeed

Newry Cathedral News

The well used phrase,  “a friend in need is a friend indeed” speaks a timeless truth about the meaning of true friendship. While this phrase may sound modern, its origin can actually be traced back to the writings of the ancient Greek philosopher Ennius in the 3rd century BC. He expressed it in Latin as “Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur,” meaning “a sure friend is known when in difficulty.” This ancient wisdom contains an important reality – it is when we stand by our friends in their hour of need that the depth of our friendship is proven.

As Christians, we are called to love our neighbour, which includes being a loyal and devoted friend. Friendships are truly tested and strengthened when we are present for each other during life’s hardships. It is easy to be friends when times are good, but steadfast loyalty during trials separates true companions from fair-weather friends. We have all experienced the pain of the latter.

Jesus Christ embodied the ideals of unwavering friendship. He told his disciples, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Then he proceeded to demonstrate this by enduring the Cross out of love for us. This kind of self-giving love should be what we aspire to in our own friendships.

So how can we be the type of faithful friend that Ennius wrote about over 2000 years ago and that Jesus showed us by his actions.  Here are some ideas:

1. Be dependable. Follow through on promises to friends and make time for them. Show you can be counted on, especially in their struggles.

2. Listen without judgment. Offer an empathetic ear and wise advice, not condemnation. We all make mistakes – be supportive.

3.Give unconditionally. Do not keep score in friendships. Give your time and care without expecting anything in return.

4. Speak the truth in love. A loyal friend tells the truth, kindly! Do so gently and for the friend’s growth.

5. Pray for friends. Bring their needs before God in prayer. Ask God to bless them and guide you in supporting them.

6. Forgive readily. Friends hurt each other at times. Let go of grudges and forgive, as you desire it for yourself.

7. Build each other up. Cheer your friends sincerely. Rejoice in their gifts and encourage their growth.

And above all else, laugh together. Humour and joy deepen camaraderie. Be fully present and make quality time for real connection without distractions.

The philosopher Ennius reminded us that difficult times reveal true friends. May we rise to the occasion when friends face trials, proving our loyalty. And may we also have the humility to allow others to comfort us in our own times of need. Our friends are gifts from God to cherish. Let us love them as Christ would – with compassion and sacrificial devotion. This is what it truly means to be a friend indeed