On the wall hanging John bought us from the gift shop at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the first part of Proverbs 17:17 from the NKJV: “A friend loves at all times.” When I went to hang up the gift in our place that evening, I thought it interesting that a cross near our front door has the same verse engraved on it.
Last week, I pulled out one of my many bookmarks to stick in Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis, the book I’d borrowed from my sister Mary and brother-in-law Jordan’s house. I didn’t think too much about my choice of placeholders until I finished that book and was moving on to another one. In the center of the bookmark are the words: “A friend loves at all times.” Around this verse are different clocks and time pieces all set to various times floating alongside the following phrases: “good times, bad times, crying times, laughing times, happy times, sad times, feast times, famine times, giving times, receiving times, all times!”
I’ve had this bookmark for a number of years, possibly since I was in elementary school. I can’t remember who gave it to me, if it was for some special occasion such as a going away party before one of our family’s many moves or just a thinking-of-you present. Though I don’t remember the specifics, I know someone who considered me a friend gave it to me.
When contemplating this phrase which has popped up a few times this week, my first reaction is to think that I’ve never really been a friend to anyone in the purest and truest sense if the definition of friend is someone who loves at all times. Sure, I’ve been a devoted companion, who stands by people whether things in their lives are going great or falling apart, but I can’t honestly say that I have loved those people at all times.
Is someone a fair-weather friend or just human if she/he is usually, but not always present with care and compassion when it’s needed? I’d say just human. Christ and Mary are the two who can be perfect friends, always present, always loyal, always loving.
Lord, thank You for the gift of Your Son and the Blessed Mother, who are indeed friends to each of us in the truest sense of the word, the Ones who love us at all times. Help us to be better friends to one another. Teach us how we can be better vessels for Your love, kindness, gentleness, generosity, compassion, and concern.