Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
St Ignatius with his friend Francis Xavier
There he stands,
my friend, the friend of guilt and helplessness,
to steer my hollow body
over the sea
I saw him standing, Ann Griffiths trans. Rowan Williams
Friendship at the centre of the universe
The core subject of redemption is often painted in cosmic strokes and drawn up in legal language. The theology of friendship draws our attention to Jesus's words about laying down his life for his friends. It draws its vitality from Jesus's motivations, which stem in part from his relationship with those he called friends. This brings the big story a little closer to our doorstep and into my living room.
My elephant in the room
We read and observe that Jesus is friend to the sinner, the wayward and the confused. Ann Griffiths goes a little further, brings Jesus a little nearer. My friend, the friend of guilt and helplessness. Guilt, helplessness, fear; each an elephant in the room. We may shy from it, intimidated. It's presence large and looming, very present and very difficult to shift. Yet we are offered this friend, who does not shy from our guilt or helplessness, but is a friend to it, who wants to change our perspective and steer us towards the freedom that has been gained for us.
Next time guilt, or your particular elephant, lumbers into the room, there's a friend who would like to be introduced.