By: Fr. Roy Cimagala
We should try our best to be friendly always with everyone. Irrespective of how they are — and this can include those who in our human standards we consider to be unlikable, or who have done us wrong, or who are even hostile to us — we should just try our best to be friendly with them.
And the reason is because that is what Christ commanded to do. “Love your neighbor as I have loved you,” he said, and we know that his love covered everyone, including the enemies. His love has a universal scope. Even in his passion and death, he managed to offer forgiveness to those who crucified him.
Of course, the ultimate basis for this Christian duty is that regardless of our differences and even our conflicts, we are all brothers and sisters. We form one family, we all come from the same source and are meant to have a common end. We therefore are meant to care for one another, to be responsible for one another.
We have to develop the appropriate skills to carry out this duty. We have to start with the most elementary requirement of always being nice to everyone. In this regard, we have to overcome the usual differences we have in our human condition. We have to be pro-active in this regard, not waiting for the others to merit our friendship. We should try to live out what St. Paul once said: “To be all things to all men…”
That is why we need to strengthen our will to carry out this duty. We should not just depend on some favorable conditions before we start to be friendly. We should not be friendly only to those who are nice to us or to those who please us in some way. We have to train ourselves to be indiscriminate in our friendliness even as we also train ourselves to be discriminating in our dealings with everyone.
Gestures of affections, no matter how small and insignificant, always count. Our friendship should be not only intentional and theoretical. It should be tangible, seen and felt. Smiling, greeting, engaging in some small talk go a long way to start and keep our friendships going. We have to learn the many social skills of always being warm and welcoming of everyone.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Thus, we really need to train ourselves, using both the supernatural and human means, the spiritual and the material means. This may strike as something awkward to do at the beginning, but then if we try again to consider the necessity of such training, such awkwardness will disappear.
Everyday we have to train ourselves to develop a keeninterest in the others, especially in those cases where due to some natural and human reasons no big interest can be felt at the beginning. This is the challenge we have to face everyday. But once we manage to do this, we would be on the way to becoming friendly to everyone irrespective of how they are.
We may have to force ourselves to be interested in knowing more and more about the others, even ‘wasting’ time with them since friendship will also require a lot of time. We should see to it that we just don’t give some cursory attention to them. Our attention to them should be full. We have to make every effort to be directly in touch with them, and not simply relying on technological communication.
Obviously, for friendship to blossom we really have to pray and to offer sacrifices for the others. We should be willing to be patient with them, especially if for one reason or another we are made to suffer in some way in the process.
Yes, we need the grace of God to learn how to be friendly always with everyone.